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MLR Week 15: A Big Easy Cruise, A Mile High Mauling, & East Coast Rugby

Photo Cred - Josh Fredlund

Week 15 of Major League Rugby continued the, what is now becoming weekly, standings shuffle. The NOLA Gold cruised past Austin to reclaim the top spot (at least temporarily). The Glendale Raptors put themselves into a playoff spot, at least for this week. Toronto finishes a fast paced last 10 minutes against San Diego. While RUNY/Houston.

NOLA Cruises Against Austin In The Big Easy, 26-14

The NOLA Gold were able to secure a bonus point victory over Austin Elite Rugby in just 50 minutes of play. Eric Howard was able to get the party started early after taking an offload from Taylor Howden and bursting 20 meters through the Austin defense to dot down for the try. “We started exactly how we wanted to start. We played our game plan perfectly, and we did the simple things really, really well,” Howard told Brian Wollitz of The New Orleans Advocate.

Austin was able to get on the board before halftime, but not before NOLA would extend their lead. Nick Feakes, who is putting his hand up for rookie of the year, offloaded to Ignacio Dotti for the try. Austin responded right before halftime. Dominique Bailey got the ball of an Elite lineout and ran close to 50 meters for the try. Andrés Vilaseca converted to bring the halftime score to 12-7 in favor of the Gold.

After halftime, the NOLA Gold put the match away in the first 10 minutes of the half. First, the Gold were awarded a penalty try. Then, Billy Stewart took a quick ball, broke through an Austin tackle, and dotted down for the try. Austin attempted a comeback, but could only manage one try. Soheyl Jaoudat was able to break to get over the line after an Austin five meter scrum.

NOLA continues to earn wins that put them top of the table, but they are slowing down from the torrid pace they had to start the season. Austin, man what can you say about Austin. They have the individual rugby talent to compete, but can't put it together as a team. If they're not careful, Alain Hyardet could be the next coach let go.

NOLA gets ready for a tough stretch, as they welcome the San Diego Legion to New Orleans on Saturday, May 11th. Austin has a quick turnaround as they prepare for a midweek game in Canada against the Toronto Arrows on Thursday, May 9th.

Glendale Matches MLR Record With 64-22 Win Over Utah

The Glendale Raptors tied the Major League Rugby record for points in a game by a single team with 64 points. Unfortunately for Utah, both of those games came against them this season. The Glendale Raptors scored nine tries on the night and came within a missed conversion of breaking the single game scoring record.

Robbie Petzer led the way for the Raptors. Petzer finished with a hat trick and scored 34 points on the night including conversions and a penalty kick. Chad London had himself a brace on the night, scoring two tries to shut down any momentum Utah was building. John Ryberg added to his league leading try tally, with his 12th try of the season. Shaun Davies, Dylan Taikato-Simpson, and Mika Kruse added the other three trys for Glendale.

Things could not have gone worse for Utah. Coming off a week where they built some momentum with a big win over Austin, the Warriors lost pretty much all of it with a huge loss in Colorado. Only able to cross the try line three times, Utah couldn't consistently build any momentum. They got off to a quick 10-0 start, but Glendale shut the door at almost all opportunities.

The Raptors continue to come on strong to end the season after a slow start to the season. While Utah continues their slide back after a decent year one. Utah will need to just keep working. They have all of the tools, they just need to keep working on their continuity.

Glendale now heads on the road to Texas, as they face the Houston SaberCats, at a hopefully decently turfed AVEVA Stadium on Saturday, May 11th. Utah now heads north of the border, as they face a Toronto Arrows team who will be playing their third match in a week on Sunday, May 12th.
Utah vs Glendale 5.4.2019

Toronto Wins Fast Paced Second Half Against San Diego, 23-19

The Toronto Arrows have moved to Lamport Stadium in downtown Toronto to finish out their first Major League Rugby season. They faced the San Diego Legion in their first match at their new digs. They also where able to walk away with a last minute victory thanks to a depleted Legion side. San Diego was shown three yellow cards during this match and the last one cost them. 

This looked like it was going to be a defensive battle as it was 12-9 in favor of the Legion with 10 minutes left in the match and then there was a flurry of scoring. Leandro Leivas went through the Legion defense untouched for the try. Joe Pietersen got the lead back for the Legion as he converted his own try. But it was the Legion who did themselves in at the end.

New Legion signing Dino Waldren was sent to the sin bin for cynically slowing down play. The Arrows then elected to scrum down and scored after a couple phases of pick and go. The Arrows snapped the Legion's six match unbeaten streak, which started after the Arrows beat them in San Diego. Toronto also extend their winning streak to three matches.

Toronto is now back in contention for a playoff spot, as they are just three points behind the final playoff spot currently held by Seattle. The Legion earned a losing bonus point, and now sit three points behind NOLA for the #1 playoff seed.

The Toronto Arrows now get to see how deep they are as a team, as they play two games in this upcoming week. First, they welcome Austin Elite on Thursday, May 9th. Then, they welcome the Utah Warriors on Sunday, May 12th. San Diego now heads to the Big Easy to face the Gold, on Saturday, May 11th.

RUNY Beats Houston & The Rain 21-0

Houston headed to New York, after their head coach Justin Fitzpatrick resigned, looking to gain any momentum they could. They are now heading back to Texas with nothing. The SaberCats couldn't put any points on the board, becoming only the second ever Major League Rugby team to be shutout.

Rugby United New York had their forwards due the dirty work all day. The front row was responsible for all three trys on the day. Hooker Dylan Fawsitt had two, while prop Paddy Ryan had the other try. The set piece was the matchup to watch coming in and it didn't disappoint. With the set piece going 50/50 either way all game.

Houston had multiple chances to put points on the board, but couldn't capitalize on their opportunities. Multiple times they had RUNY backed up on their try line and couldn't get over. They either had a knock on or turned it over. It's almost becoming a broken record with the bottom three teams. Houston has the individual talent, but can't put it all together as a team.

RUNY has to be careful. They have one of the toughest schedules remaining in MLR and could be one of the teams on the outside looking in come playoff time. Houston just needs something to go their way. If that can happen, they can start building towards next season.

New York now gets set to welcome the defending champion Seattle Seawolves to MCU Park on Saturday, May 11th. Houston hopes to avoid turfpocalypse 2.0, as they welcome the Glendale Raptors to AVEVA Stadium on Saturday, May 11th.


~Josh Fredlund (Photos by Josh Fredlund)