LA Giltinis Edges Utah Warriors in Western Conference Final

The LA Giltinis defeated the Utah Warriors 17-13 to win the Western Conference Final. They will play the Eastern Conference Champion Rugby ATL on August 1 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Kickoff will be at 4 pm ET, 1 pm local, and will be broadcast on CBS and streamed internationally on The Rugby Network.

Match Recap

The Giltinis struck first after a lineout with Bill Meakes offloading to Luke Burton with John Ryberg finishing. After JP Doyle reviewed the TMO, it was ruled that the Burton to Ryberg pass was forward resulting in a Utah 5-meter scrum.

Utah cleared and John Ryberg slashed ahead before being tackled by Jurie Van Vuuren. JP Smith needed to exit in the 10th minute with Charlie Abel coming in for a Giltinis scrum just outside the Utah 22-meters. Harrison Goddard went blind and stepped into touch. An LA penalty allowed Utah to clear.

The Giltinis attacked from a lineout and went through multiple phases before a penalty led to an LA lineout. Dennis jumped too early and Utah cleared with a free-kick. The teams then traded kicks with Utah gaining possession inside LA territory.

An LA penalty had Hagen Schulte kicking for territory and LA stole a 5-meter lineout and cleared giving Utah another lineout at midfield. LA was penalized and the Warriors had a lineout 5-meters out. After seven forward picks the ball was knocked on giving LA a 5-meter scrum, which they cleared.

The Giltinis had an extensive attack with the Warriors’ defense stellar. A Giltinis penalty had Utah kicking for territory with LA stealing the lineout. Other handling errors gave LA a scrum 12-meters in defense and cleared for a Utah lineout at the 10-meter line.

A Utah counterattack went through several phases and two LA penalties had Utah kicking for a lineout 15-meters from in-goal. Utah went through multiple phases before a Schulte cross kick intended for Mika Kruse was taken by Van der Merwe and then cleared.

After a Utah penalty, LA attacked from a lineout at the Warriors’ 22-meters. After several phases, the ball was lost forward and cleared.

Bill Meakes found a gap and offloaded it to Luke White. The ball went wide left with Adam Ashley-Cooper stepping inside and scoring a try. Matt Giteau converted for a 7-0 lead in the 36th minute.

A lineout steal by the Warriors at midfield and a Giltinis penalty had Hagen Schulte slotting a penalty goal in the 41st minute to cut the lead to 7-3 at the break.

LA had the edge in territory 51%, but Utah controlled possession, 58% in the half.

Second Half

Utah continues to disrupt the Giltinis lineouts and a knock-on resulted in a Utah scrum. An LA penalty led to a Warriors lineout 12-meters out. This time Dennis tapped and a knock-on gave LA a scrum. The Giltinis attacked wide right with DTH Van der Merwe motoring into Warriors’ territory. The teams then traded short attacks.

A no-wrap tackle on Olive Kilifi by Mahe Vailanu at midfield resulted in a penalty goal by Schulte, 7-6.

A Bill Meakes offload to Adam Ashley-cooper resulted in a long break and an offload to Van Der Merwe. The team was not able to capitalize and Utah cleared. Matt Giteau went into contact and was penalized at the breakdown allowing Utah to attack from midfield.

Play momentarily stopped to review a Saia Uhila carry. JP Doyle was satisfied that there was not a hit to the head and Utah continued with a scrum at midfield. Following several phases, Baska kicked ahead for a LA lineout 5-meters out.

Utah stole again and the forwards pounded ahead. Doyle consulted a TMO if Sama Malolo grounded under the posts and a try was awarded, 7-13. (58th minute)

LA then camped out deep inside Utah territory, but slow-ball had the Warriors defending. A penalty had the Giltinis kicking to touch and attacking from a lineout. A loose ball was picked up by Utah and cleared.

The Giltinis attacked again, but the ball went forward into the Warriors’ hands. Bailey Wilson did not release and LA attacked from a lineout. After several picks by the forwards, Harrison Goddard passed to Ryan James for a try in the right corner. Luke Burton then bounced the ball off the posts, 13-12.

A Utah penalty had Luke Carty unsuccessful with a penalty goal attempt. (75th minute). The Giltinis cemented a place in the MLR Shield Final with Ryan James adding a brace and Luke Carty

LA tried to extend the lead in the 75th minute, but a Luke Carty penalty goal attempt bounced off the posts.

Soon after, LA’s Ryan James added a brace, 17-13 and this held up for a LA win.

LA Giltinis is the Western Conference Champion and will host the Eastern Conference winner, Rugby ATL, on August 1 at 4 pm ET on CBS at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Ryan James was named Man of the Match.


LA Giltinis: 1 Jean-Pierre Smith, 2 Mahe Vailanu, 3 Marco Fepulea’i, 4 Dave Dennis (capt.), 5 Luke White, 6 Nathan Den Hoedt, 7 Christian Poidevin, 8 Corey Thomas, 9 Harrison Goddard, 10 Matt Giteau, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 12 Bill Meakes, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 John Ryberg, 15 Luke Burton 16 Sean McNulty, 17 Blake Rogers, 18 Charlie Abel, 19 Sean O’Brien, 20 Pago Haini, 21 Luke Carty, 22 Ryan James, 23 Serupepeli Vularika

Utah Warriors: 1 Olive Kilifi, 2 Sama Malolo, 3 Angus MacLellan, 4 Saia Uhila, 5 Matt Jensen, 6 Aston Fortuin, 7 Bailey Wilson (capt.), 8 Jurie van Vuuren, 9 Michael Baska, 10 Hagen Schulte, 11 Mika Kruse, 12 Calvin Whiting, 13 Tyler Fisher, 14 James Vaifale, 15 Mike Te’o 16 Veremalua Vugakoto, 17 Franco van den Berg, 18 Paul Mullen, 19 Chad Gough, 20 Mike Gieselman, 21 Danny Christensen, 22 Cliven Loubser, 23 Logan Togo

Date: Sunday, July 25
Venue: Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles

Referee: JP Doyle (England), Assistants: Scott Green (USA) & Austin Reed (USA)

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