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MLR Week Four Recap: The East Is Rocking

Photo Cred: Josh Fredlund

Major League Rugby is looking like a one conference league this season. San Diego is on top of the standings, but all six eastern conference teams are occupying the next six standings positions. The western conference was expected to be a competitive conference, but Seattle and Colorado have taken nose dives in quality of play and the newcomers in the east have proven themselves capable of the rigors of Major League Rugby these first few weeks.

Old Glory DC 28-19 Austin Gilgronis

DC was without the Beast in this match, and did just enough to pull out the victory here. Danny Tusitala and Doug Fraser scored trys in the first half, while Renata Roberts-Te Nana scored a try at the end to put the match out of reach for Austin. Jason Robertson is putting his hand up for selection at flyhalf on the MLR First XV of the season. He finished this match five of six from the tee.

Austin seems to have a consistency problem this season, in that they only play one half every match. Last week it was enough to earn a draw, this week it wasn't enough as they dug themselves too deep a first half hole. Tiaan Erasmus was able to get over the try-line after a lineout drive. And Frank Halai scored his second try in as many matches for the Gilgronis.

Austin will travel to Houston in the season's first Texas derby. While DC returns home to host Rugby ATL.

San Diego Legion 25-21 NOLA Gold

The San Diego Legion kept ahold of their unbeaten record. But it wasn't without pressure from Nola. San Diego struggled in the first half and went into halftime down 21-12, but came out in the second half and scored 13 unanswered points to walk out with the victory. Ma'a Nonu finished with two trys and Joe Pietersen saw his first action of the season. Pietersen finished his day perfect from the tee.

The Gold will be disappointed to not have ended the Legion's unbeaten streak when they had a very good chance to do so. A strong first half from the Gold gave way to a disappearing act in the second half. The Gold have a strong squad, but just couldn't compete with the talent Legion brought to the table this match.

The Legion return home to host Rugby United New York. The Legion will stay in the Shrine on Airline and host the New England Free Jacks.

Colorado Raptors 22-14 Utah Warriors

The Colorado Raptors earned their first victory over the season with an eight point win over the Utah Warriors. Rene Ranger led the way for the Raptors as he was able to power his way over the try line for two trys for the Raptors. Mason Emerson was also able to dot down for the Raptors. Colorado's defense was the story during this match, as they were able to slow the Warriors down throughout the match.

It just wasn't the Warriors day this day. Utah was on the back foot a lot against Colorado and whenever they were able to get some momentum they gave it away with handling errors or silly penalties. They had a chance to make it interesting near the end, but the Warriors defense in open play cost them as the Raptors were able to pull away.

Colorado stays home as they prepare to host the Toronto Arrows. The Warriors stay on the road as they head to the Pacific Northwest to face the Seattle Seawolves.

Seattle Seawolves 44-29 New England Free Jacks

The Seawolves didn't let a lightning delay get in their way of the first victory of the season. The first couple of minutes looked like Seattle would let the delay get to them, but the return of Ben Cima wouldn't let that happen. Cima finished a perfect eight of eight from the tee to push the Seawolves to victory. J.P. Smith and Nakai Penny both finished with two trys in this match.

The Free Jacks were able to keep up with the Seawolves try for try, but couldn't keep up in the kicking game. Timothée Guillimin was only able to convert two of New England's trys and he missed his only penalty kick attempt. New England was able to keep up with Seattle physically, but couldn't keep up in the mental game as the Free Jacks weren't able to do the little things to win this match.

The Seawolves stay home, as they host the Utah Warriors next week. While the Free Jacks stay on the road as they head to New Orleans to face the Gold.

Toronto Arrows 28-18 Rugby ATL

The Toronto Arrows walked out of a physical contest in Atlanta with the win. A halftime deficit didn't deter them as they were able to outscore Rugby ATL 21-7 in the second half. It was the South American show for the Arrows as all four of their tries were scored by players from Uruguay and Argentina. Leandro Leivas had two trys, while Tomás de la Vega and Gastón Mieres each finished with a try.

After a strong start to the season, Rugby ATL has now lost two straight matches. ATL has been in both of those loses, but just couldn't pull it out in the end. Against the Arrows, ATL brought a physical style that frustrated the Arrows at point, but they couldn't do enough to stop the Arrows in the end. Kurt Coleman brought pace and strength to this Atlanta side, but couldn't get the help to push them over the line for victory.

The Arrows now head to Colorado on a short week, as they face the Raptors on Friday. Rugby ATL head north as they head to DC to face Old Glory in the CBS Sports Game of the Week.

Rugby United New York 31-23 Houston SaberCats

New York came into this match with momentum after winning two straight following an opening week loss to the New England Free Jacks. The first half was all RUNY as they were able to outscore the SaberCats 21-3. Thing got a little dicey as Houston got it down to a one point game, but a late intercept from Mike Brown, try from Marcus Walsh, and conversion from Cathal Marsh helped New York seal the victory.

The Houston SaberCats were looking to break a two match losing streak. Against New York, they were within a point, but trying to be too cute cost them a losing bonus point. Sam Windsor was the only player to score for the SaberCats until a late try by Taylor Howden. Houston has the talent to be a good team, but they need other players to step up around Sam Windsor if they want to take that next step.

Rugby United New York again head west, as they head to San Diego to face the league leading San Diego Legion. Houston stays home as they host the Austin Gilgornis in the first Texas derby of the year.

~Josh Fredlund