Seattle Beats San Diego 38-24 To Advance To The MLR Championship


The Seattle Seawolves met the San Diego Legion at Infinity Park in the first Major League Rugby semi-final of the day. The Seawolves pulled away in the second half to advance to the MLR Championship. The San Diego Legion's season ends in a disappointing performance.

Joe Pietersen, a new San Diego signing from South Africa, got the scoring started in the match with a penalty kick. Peter Smith responded for the Seawolves with a penalty kick of his own. Both teams committed silly penalties in the opening few minutes.

Joe Pietersen continued to make in an impact in his first match for the Legion. After a box kick and little kick chase from Seattle, Pietersen weaved his way through the Seawolves defense for the try. San Diego's defense stood tall in the first half of the first half. Seattle did make some hard charging meters, but the Legion stood tall and forced turnovers from the Seawolves.

Seattle committed some simple errors in the first half. Not straight lineouts, slow kick chase, and not enough support for their ball carriers. The Legion's maul was a really effective weapon for them. They were usually able to gain at least 10 meters on every maul. The Seawolves scrum continued to cause problems for the Legion, similar to their first meeting. No penalty tries in this match though.

Reikert Hattingh has missed a good portion of the season with injury. But his play led to the Seawolves first try. After Hattingh broke through the Legion's defense and was brought down at the five meter line, the ball found its way into Shalom Suniula's hands and he weaved his way through the Legion's defense for the try. Peter Smith with the conversion that tied the game at 10.

After the Seawolves looked like they were going to score right before the half, the Legion turned it over and looked like they were going to do the same. They got down close and Tadhg Leader put a grubber kick through that Phil Mack was able to gather in and go out of bounds to end the first half.

This was a decent first half for both teams, but it could've been better. Similar to their first meeting, Seattle dominated the scrums and the Legion dominated the lineouts. Simple mistakes from both teams kept this from being a higher scoring half.

It took a while for points to get on the board in the second half, but they came rapid fire when they did come. Drew Gaffney was first for the Legion. The Seawolves looked like they were playing in slow motion, as Gaffney received the offload and walked in, untouched, for the try.

The tide started to turn in this match when Alec Barton was shown a yellow card for no arms in the tackle. Seattle immediately took advantage and William Rasileka scored a try. Rasileka ran an inside line and ran over the Legion defender for the try.

Peter Tiberio then gave the Seawolves the lead off a mistake from Dylan Audsley. Audsley hesistated before passing and Tiberio was there for the intercept and was free and clear 60 meters for the try. San Diego was down to 13 men after Siaosi Mahoni was shown a yellow card for pulling a Seattle player down out of the air. Mahoni had just come onto the field as a substitute.

The Legion's scrum suffered with two forwards out with yellow cards. With two forwards out, the Legion brought their centers, Dylan Audsley & Ryan Matyas, to fill in at the flanker positions. Sequoyah Burke-Combs was able to take advantage of the Seawolves two-man advantage. Burke-Combs was alone on the wing and the skip pass found its way into his hands and Burke-Combs was in for the try.

John Hayden added the last Seawolves try on the day. Hayden received the pass and bulldozed his way over for the try near the posts. Nate Augspurger got a consolation try for the Legion. Joe Pietersen put a grubber kick through and Augspurger was able to sprint onto the ball for the try.

The Legion had a strong start to both halves, but couldn't finish. They were really undone when they were down to 13 men after two yellow cards. They have the talent, but couldn't put it all together when it mattered most. The Seawolves finished strong in this match, they were able to take advantage of San Diego's many mistakes. Seattle has come far after a preseason full of questions.

The Legion's season has ended and they now head into the off-season. The Seawolves have advanced to the MLR Championship and will face the Glendale Raptors in the teams third meeting of the season.

Man of the Match
San Diego: Joe Pietersen
Seattle: Riekert Hattingh

Seattle vs San Diego 6/30/2018

Scoring
San Diego

Tries: Joe Pietersen (9), Drew Gaffney (56), Nate Augspurger (80)

Cons: Joe Pietersen 3/3

Pens: Joe Pietersen 1/1 (4)

Yellow Card: Alec Barton (62, No Arms In Tackle), Siaosi Mahoni (67, Pulling Player Down Out Of The Air)

Seattle 

Tries: Shalom Suniula (33), William Rasileka (63), Peter Tiberio (66), Sequoyah Burke-Combs (73), John Hayden (79)

Cons: Peter Smith 5/5

Pens: Peter Smith 1/1 (6)

~Josh Fredlund (Photos by Josh Fredlund)