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MLR Week 12 Preview

Photo Cred - Josh Fredlund

Week 12 of Major League Rugby has three rematches and a stadium opening. Utah plays NOLA in non-blizzard conditions. Austin heads north of the border looking to rebound after a poor showing against the Legion. San Diego & RUNY meetup in a east coast-west coast matchup. Houston finally gets to open AVEVA Stadium with a tough matchup against the Seattle Seawolves.

Utah Warriors @ NOLA Gold - Saturday, April 13th (3pm ET)

TV - Cox Sports TV, ESPN+

The Utah Warriors head from one tough matchup to another. After losing a late lead to the Seattle Seawolves at home, the Warriors now head south to face the NOLA Gold. NOLA had a close call in Toronto, and have started slipping from their early season form. A longer season can be attributed to the performance drop off as this time last year was the championship match.

Utah jumped out on top of the Seattle Seawolves, but couldn't contain their lead and fell off in the second half. Against NOLA, the Warriors will need to put together a complete 80 minutes. For Utah that will be tough, as the Warriors have had fitness troubles dating back to last season. Fetu'u Vainikolo went down with a hamstring injury last week. If he can't go this week, the Warriors have limited options to replace him.

NOLA was on the good side of the comeback against Toronto. NOLA scored 28 points in the first half and then went silent in the second half until the very end of the match. After being the goat against Glendale, Ignacio Dotti was the hero last week. Dotti was able to cross the try line for the winning try and NOLA's only points of the second half.

This match could mean fireworks. NOLA has the top offense in MLR and Utah has the second worst defense in the league. Defense could be optional here and we could possibly see the total points in match record broken for the third straight week. On the other hand, we could see a sloppy match as the weather in New Orleans calls for rain.

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

Seattle Seawolves @ Houston SaberCats - Saturday, April 13th (6pm ET)

TV - Facebook Watch, KUBE, Root Sports Northwest

Another matchup of two teams that were on opposite sides of a comeback. Seattle overcame a slow start to walk out of Utah with the victory. Houston just straight up collapsed in Colorado. Up 32-0, the SaberCats were outscored 52-12 the rest of the match by the Glendale Raptors. Last years champions, Seattle, are off to a slow start by their standards and Houston has already doubled their win total from last year.

The Seattle Seawolves are holding a tenuous position on the last playoff spot. Seattle has gotten lucky at times during this season. And if it weren't for a late Utah fitness collapse, Seattle would be on the outside looking in on the playoffs. The dominant Seattle scrum from last season seems to have disappeared and there's no coherent offensive scheme to be found.

The Houston SaberCats were absolutely demoralized after last weeks collapse against the Raptors. Their dominant scrum contributed to two penalty trys and a yellow card. Unfortunately, Glendale was able to adjust and flip the momentum in their favor. Against Seattle, Houston will need to find their groove in the scrum again.

This is a matchup of complete opposites. Seattle thrives in loose play, while Houston thrives in the set piece. The kicking game is a wash, as both Brock Staller and Sam Windsor are the two of the top kickers in the league. This matchup will come down to whichever team can control the pace of play. If Seattle can keep the game moving, they'll run away with it. If Houston can slow it down and play through the set piece, they'll have a chance to win in the grand opening of AVEVA Stadium.

EoD Picks: Aaron - Seattle, Corey - Seattle, Josh - Houston, Liam - Houston

San Diego Legion @ RUNY - Sunday, April 14th (1pm ET)

TV - ESPN+, SNY, Fox 5 San Diego

In the match of the week, San Diego heads to Coney Island to face RUNY in rematch from Week 1. The Legion will be looking for revenge after they lost the first matchup on a penalty try. The Legion steamrolled Austin in their last match. RUNY is coming off a bye, but they had problems when they faced Austin two weeks ago. 

The Legion have all of the momentum coming into this match on a three game unbeaten streak. Joe Pietersen is putting his hand up for MVP of Major League Rugby. The San Diego scrum has gone from a joke to the best in MLR. San Diego did well last season and made the playoffs, this season has gone better. But for now, the Legion are on the outside looking in.

Rugby United New York has surpassed expectations in year one. Expected to be a middle of the pack team, RUNY has been knocking on the door of first place. Their scrum is one of the best in MLR as well and can go toe to toe with any team in this league. The backs have been a revelation with only Cathal Marsh and Ben Foden getting any recognition in the preseason.

A matchup of two great scrums and two good sets of backs will come down to who wants it more. In their first matchup, RUNY jumped out and the Legion roared back. This match might come down to the last second once again. Expect a back and forth contest that could be a contender for match of the year.

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

Austin Elite @ Toronto Arrows

TV - ESPN+, Facebook Watch, GameTV

The last match of Week 12 could be an interesting one. Austin took a big step back last week, after weeks of looking like they were going to turn the corner. Toronto can be hot or cold and this could be the match where it catches up to them. After selling out Alumni Field last week, the Arrows look for a strong crowd once again.

The Austin Elite had a decent performance against a strong RUNY scrum and then were absolutely destroyed by a dominant San Diego scrum. If the Elite's performance in the scrum can get back to what worked against RUNY, this team can cause problems. Austin has the talent no doubt, now it just comes down to putting everything together.

The Toronto Arrows will be out for blood after losing at the last minute against NOLA. Toronto will be looking for their first win on Canadian soil too. A strong all around game plan will be in store, as the Arrows will look to put together a complete game plan and run Austin of the field. They will have to be careful as they almost tripped when they played the Elite in week two.

The scrum will be the matchup to watch here. The backs are even as they can strike at anytime. The forwards will be the ones to decide this match. If Austin can maintain even footing in the set piece, they'll have a chance for their first win this season. If Toronto can push the Elite around the park, this will be over early.

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

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