The Major League Rugby Western Conference leaders San Diego Legion defeated Rugby United New York 24-20 at Torero Stadium in a showdown of two of the top teams in the league.
The San Diego Legion have distanced themselves from the other Western Conference teams in the standings, while Rugby United New York remains in contention in the very competitive Eastern Conference race.
On Sunday, March 15, Rugby United New York will host their first home game at MCU Park with a match between their High School Academy team against the Connacht U17s as an opener. The San Diego Legion travel to Austin, Texas for a match against the Gilgronis that same night.
San Diego Legion vs Rugby United New York Recap
The Legion scored first with a penalty goal by Joe Pietersen in the 8th minute after a high tackle by RUNY to take a 3-0.
The ensuing restart did not carry 10-meters, but the Legion played the ball and resulted in a NY scrum. A grub ahead gave the Legion a lineout deep inside San Diego territory, but the Roosters were not able to take advantage.
The Legion tacked on a try by Tira Patterson in the left corner with Pietersen adding the extras, 10-0.
Rugby United New York answered by going through phases and advancing the ball close to in-goal. The Roosters showed their scrum dominance and after multiple scrums, a penalty try, cut the lead to 10-7.
Two penalty goals by Cathal Marsh gave RUNY a 13-10 lead at the break.
During the first half, the Legion spent the early portion of the match inside RUNY territory. The Legion utilized the twin towers of Josh Furno and Ben Mitchell to create a lineout edge with scrum dominance going to the Roosters. Both defenses were difficult to penetrate and set the tone for the match.
The Legion had the first opportunity in the half to tie the match but elected to kick to touch to work for a try. Repeat penalties by RUNY led to Paddy Ryan being sent to the bin. From the ensuing lineout, the Legion used a maul to cross in-goal, but the ball was held up.
The legion then elected a scrum. This required Kirk Hamilton to enter the match at tighthead prop with Connor Wallace-Sims exiting. After multiple picks by the forwards, another Rooster penalty resulted in another scrum and later a lineout with RUNY defending the maul. Finally, at the breakdown, the Roosters won a turnover and had their scrum.
The Legion did tack on another try in the 52nd minute with Tira Patterson scoring a brace in the left corner, with Pieterson converting to lead 17-13.
A high ball by Luke Burton was gathered by Burton and a Keni Nasoqeqe offload to Josh Furno resulted in a try and another Pietersen conversion, 24-13.
The Roosters could have packed it in but spent much of the remaining quarter in Legion territory.
A breakdown steal, a 5-meter lineout, a scrum led to a flat pass by Chris Mattina to Will Leonard, who crashed over the line for a try under the posts. Cathal marsh slotted the kick to draw to within four points, 24-20.
Both teams would battle until the end with the Legion holding off the Roosters for the win.
Man of the Match honors went to Josh Furno of the Legion.
San Diego Legion vs Rugby United New York & Match Preview
San Diego Legion: 1 Jamie Dever 2 Dean Muir 3 Paul Mullen 4 Ben Mitchell 5 Josh Furno 6 Jasa Veremalua 7 Psalm Wooching 8 Keni Nasoqeqe 9 Devereaux Ferris10 Luke Burton 11 Tira Patterson 12 Dylan Audsley 13 Ryan Matyas14 Save Totovosau 15 Joe Pietersen 16 Peter Malcolm 17 Faka’osi Pifeleti 18 Aaron Mitchell 19 Siaosi Mahoni 20 Chris Turori 21 Devin Short 22 Tai Enosa 23 Josh Thiel
Rugby United New York: 1 James Rochford 2 Dylan Fawsitt 3 Paddy Ryan 4 Nate Brakeley 5 Matt Wirken 6 Hanco Germishuys 7 James Denise 8 Mathieu Bastareaud 9 Marcus Walsh10 Cathal Marsh 11Connor Wallace-Sims 12 Chris Mattina 13 Will Leonard14 Mark O’Keeffe 15 Ben Foden16 Mike Brown 17 Anthony Parry 18 Kirkland Hamilton 19 Robert Irimescu 20 Kyle Sumsion 21 Mike Petri 22 Harry Bennett 23 Mike St. Claire