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MLR Week 4 Preview

Photo Cred - Josh Fredlund


We've reached the quarter mark of the season for Major League Rugby. NOLA continues their strong start to the season. RUNY and Utah finally get to play some rugby. The early battle for the wooden spoon takes place this week between Glendale and Austin. And we get to see a matchup of Canada vs Canada-lite when Toronto faces Seattle this week.

RUNY @ NOLA Gold - Saturday, February 16th (3pm ET)

TV - ESPN+, Cox Sports TV, SNY

Rugby United New York finally gets to see some more action after a scheduling quirk had them playing only one match in the first three weeks of the season. But they were able to take some momentum from that match, as they left San Diego with a victory. For a new squad, they preformed well. One issue they'll need to focus on is discipline as they had 19 penalties against the Legion.

RUNY faces a big test this weekend as they head to Louisiana to take on the league leading Gold. Ben Foden retains his place at outside center, and his leadership will be key for New York in this matchup. RUNY's defense will need to be up to the task as NOLA likes to play a fast pace, quick attack offense.

The NOLA Gold keep rolling along. Last week, they beat the defending champion Seattle Seawolves in somewhat of a convincing fashion. NOLA led for the majority of the match, but almost fell victim to their mid-match lull. Up 27-10, the Seawolves were able to bring the score to 27-24 before the Gold would pull away. Eventually, the Gold's all offense, little defense strategy will hit hard.

However, the Gold keep getting richer. They signed Tony Lamborn last week, and this week he is starting at the eight-man position. NOLA also gets Kyle Baillie back for a week, as the ARC is on a bye. The Gold's offense just needs to keep on trucking. The defense needs to step it up a little. If NOLA can force ill-discipline from RUNY, the Gold should be able to take maximum points.

EoD Picks: Aaron - NOLA, Corey - NOLA, Josh - NOLA, Liam - NOLA

Utah Warriors @ San Diego Legion - Sunday, February 17th (5pm ET)

TV - ESPN+

The Utah Warriors are in a similar situation as RUNY, where they have only played one match during the first three weeks of the season. Utah was able to walk out of Austin with a victory. However, it wasn't a very convincing victory. Some issues that were present last season, are still somewhat there. They need Josh Reeves back from international duty, as the flyhalf play against Austin was abysmal.

Fitness will be a key factor in this match for the Warriors. They had problems last season finishing games because of their conditioning. It started creeping back up against the Elite, but Utah was able to hold on. Against the Legion, that won't be the case. We saw San Diego wear down the SaberCats last week and score two tries in the last 10 minutes. Utah needs to contain the Legion, if they want to leave California with a victory.

The San Diego Legion have to have a swagger about themselves after the last two weeks. They beat the Seawolves in hurricane like rain. And they beat the Houston SaberCats in the last few minutes again. The Legion have a good attack and decent defense, they just can't seem to put it together all the time. San Diego's scrum has improved a lot this year and they'll need to be dominant this week.

With fitness potentially being an issue for the Warriors, the Legion should step on the gas and attempt to run the Warriors off the field. The Legion have the ability to put together multi-phase drives that last a couple of minutes at a time and just drain all the energy from their opponents. Pushing the pace and forcing Utah into making mistakes will be the keys for the Legion this weekend.

EoD Picks: Aaron - San Diego, Corey - San Diego, Josh - San Diego, Liam - San Diego

Glendale Raptors @ Austin Elite - Sunday, February 17th (7pm ET)

TV - CBS Sports Network

The CBS Sports Network MLR game of the week will be an early battle for the wooden spoon. Both Austin and Glendale haven't had much success this season. Glendale's poor start to the season has been the result of shooting themselves in the foot. The Raptors have had plenty of opportunities to put points on the board, but seem to have butter fingers at the most inopportune times.

This might be the week that Glendale turns it around. Austin has shown they can be a tough team, but also can't get out of their own way. The Raptors need to play their style of rugby and let the game come to them, instead of forcing it. If the Raptors can find some stickum this week and hold onto the ball, they'll leave Texas with a victory.

The Austin Elite have to be shaking their heads, they've been in each game they've played, but they can't get over that hump. Everything seems to working in their favor and then the tide rolls out and they're left with nothing. Austin is a good team, they just can't seem to get out of their own way. Opportunities have been left on the field at inopportune times too many times for Austin this season.

Timothée Guillimin will be a key factor in this matchup. Whether this is good or bad for Austin, depends on whether or not Guillimin can get out of his own head. Guillimin is a good flyhalf and usually has a trusty boot. However, this season he's in a funk as he's missed close to half his penalty kick attempts. If Guillimin can pull it together, watch out, Austin will be a dangerous team.

EoD Picks: Aaron - Glendale, Corey - Glendale, Josh - Glendale, Liam - Glendale

Toronto Arrows vs Seattle Seawolves - Sunday, February 17th (8pm ET)

TV - ESPN+, GameTV, Root Sports Northwest

In what should be the matchup of the weekend, the Toronto Arrows head west to take on the defending champion Seattle Seawolves. The Arrows have had slow starts in their two games so far this season. Against the NOLA Gold, they fell behind 24-7 and 31-19 before being able to bring it within five points, but they couldn't finish. Against Austin, they trailed for most of the match before a perfect kick chase from Dan Moor resulted in a charge down try to win the game.

Against the Seawolves, they might not be so lucky. Seattle has ways to make you pay for simple mistakes. If the Arrows want to be the Seawolves, they'll need to play smart rugby. Don't take big risks they could result in points for Seattle, unless absolutely positive it'll work. Seattle's work rate is tops in the league and the Arrows will need to contain them if they want the win.

Seattle is in an interesting position. They are in the last playoff spot right now, mainly due to the fact that they've played more games than teams below them. Teams looked to have the Seawolves figured out this season or at least NOLA looked liked they did. Against the San Diego Legion, Seattle was dealing with hurricane like rain and couldn't get any momentum going.

The Arrows are a plucky team and can catch you on an off night if you're not careful. The Seawolves need to get back to what made them so successful last season, smash-mouth rugby. Hard charging ball carries who suck the defense in, so that they can spin the ball wide and have the numbers advantage is what the Seawolves were great at last season. Seattle needs to figure something out, or they could be on the outside looking in.

EoD Picks: Aaron - Seattle, Corey - Toronto, Josh - Draw, Liam - Toronto

~Josh Fredlund (Rosters to be added as they are released)