Rugby ATL Controls the Snake Pit in Beating the Legion

Rugby ATL defeated San Diego Legion 41-22 on Saturday, April 3 at Lupo Family Field. The match was broadcast on Fox Sports 2 and internationally on the Rugby Network. The match will be available in the U.S. on the Rugby Network after 24 hours.

Rugby ATL is 2-1 in the MLR Eastern Conference with tonight’s win over the Legion. The team opened the season with a win over the Toronto Arrows and followed by a road loss last weekend to Old Glory DC.

San Diego Legion is in uncharted territory with a 1-2 record with the loss. They opened the season with a loss to Rugby United New York and had a narrow comeback win over Austin Gilgronis last weekend.

Match Recap

Rugby ATL’s Mark O’Keeffe was penalized inside the team’s 22-meter line for multiple rolls. San Diego attacked from a lineout mauling their way close to in-goal. After a Psalm Wooching crash, the ball went left through Pietersen and Audsley hands to Bjorn Basson for a try, to lead 5-0, as Pietersen’s conversion was wide.

The ensuing restart was dropped by the Legion, resulting in an ATL scrum. Mark O’Keeffe redeemed himself with a try, with Santiago Iglesias adding the extras to reclaim the lead 7-5.

A break by Ryan Matyas and a kick ahead resulted in a penalty by by Ezcurra for a blocking hit. This resulted in the Legion taking a 8-7 lead after a Pietersen penalty goal.

In the 20th minute San Diego extended their lead after a lineout with Psalm Wooching finding a gap for a try, and Joe Pietersen converting to push the lead to 15-7.

A couple of infractions had ATL electing to attack from a 5-meter lineout instead of kicking for goal. This did not work out in the Ratlers favor with the lineout stolen by the Legion.

An infraction by the Legion had Robbie Petzer trimming the lead to 15-10 with a penalty goal.

Rugby ATL used a scrum to begin an attack with Mark O’Keeffe taking an offload for his brace to knot the match at 15 all, as Petzer pushed the ball wide.

From another scrum, ATL moved the ball to Waitokia, who broke down the pitch, offloaded to the Missle, with the pass low. The turnover resulted in a Legion scrum and had ATL winning the territorial kicking back and forth.

A Legion penalty in the closing minute, had Petzer bouncing the ball off the right upright and through the post for a 18-15 lead at the break.

Second Half

Rugby ATL struck first in the 42nd minute with Martini Talapusi taking a loose ball that bounced off a Legion player in for a try with Petzer adding the extras to lead 25-15.

A tactical kick by Batista Ezcurra pinned Joe Pietersen without support. This led to a ATL scrum, but ATL could not take advantage of the attack, giving the Legion a scrum at their 22-meter line. After three phases, the Legion cleared.

Rugby ATL countered going through multiple phases with the Legion having three infractions. Robbie Petzer punished the lack of discipline with a penalty goal to lead 28-15.

Batista Ezcurra starting an attack wide left, which almost resulted in a Mark O’Keeffe hat trick, except for a try saving tackle. This provided an opportunity for the Legion to clear.

SAn Diego used a scrum for Tamielau picking and offloading left. Joe Pietersen offloaded to Dylan Audsley, who went through a gap, but did not offload to Cecil Afrika, who was in a position to score.

With 20 minutes remaining in the match, the Legion will need to create scoring opportunities and take advantage of ATL turnovers if they want to mount a comeback. Rugby ATL has had 63% of the territory in the match so far.

Rugby ATL went through multiple phases before both teams quickly traded possession. Discipline for being offsides had Petzer slotting another kick to lead 31-15, and now requires the Legion to score more than two converted tries in the final 15 minutes.

Rugby ATL claimed the restart and after multiple phases, an Ezcurra skip pass seemingly resulted in a Jeremy Misailegalu try in the right corner. Instead, the pass was forward and resulted in a Legion scrum about 7 meters from their ing-oal. ATL drive the legion scrum back and jason Damm picked the ball up and scored a bonus point try. Petzer then slotted the conversion after bouncing the ball over off the post, 38-15.

Discipline continues to be a concern for the Legion, with Petzer tacking on three more points in the 73rd minute, 41-15. This decision resulted in taking time off the clock with ATL inching closer to victory.

A penalty by ATL had the Legion attack from a lineout 7-meters from in-goal. The lineout was lost and ATL cleared. The Legion counter attacked with a penalty advantage in favor of the Legion giving the team an attacking lineout. This resulted in Dylan Audsley taking an inside pass from Cecil Afrika for a try under the posts, 41-22.

That’s the way the match would end with Rugby ATL claiming a well-earned victory. Rugby ATL’s fullback Rory Van Vugt was named the Man of the Match.

With the bonus point win, Rugby ATL moves into first-place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 record and 10 points. The Conference race is a close one after week three with 4 points separating the first and sixth place team, with both NOLA Gold and Rugby United New York having a game in hand with a bye this week.

San Diego still maintains third place in the Western Conference with 6 points, pending the outcome of the Texas Cup match between the Houston SaberCats (4 points) and Austin Gilgronis (3 points).

Next week, Rugby ATL hosts Rugby United New York on Sunday, April 11, while San Diego Legion travels to Houston for a Saturday match against the SaberCats.

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