The second weekend of the Major League Rugby season saw vast improvement in play.
As would be expected in a Rugby Union League in its infancy, the play has improved from week one. This past weekend saw a drastic improvement in the San Diego Legion scrum, and the Glendale Raptors discipline. Utah Warriors finally made their debut in a tough battle against the Legion.
Houston Sabercats started off the weekend with a match against Austin Elite at home. The Sabercats had a tremendous showing, scoring 50 points, the highest of any MLR team so far. While Austin Elite managed six tries of their own, the Elite defense was unable to slowdown the Sabercats attack.
Glendale Raptors were able to bounce back from a card filled week one for a very clean performance in Seattle. The Seattle Seawolves scrum was as powerful as in week one, but the Raptors were more adept to handle their strength. The lack of a strong attack by the Seawolves ultimately led to their demise with only two tries. The Seawolves defense though allowed them to finish the match only down by four from Zach Fenoglio and Harley Davidson tries as well as three penalties from Will Magie.
San Diego Legion held their home opener against the debuting Utah Warriors. The match was an extremely physical contest, with the brute force of the Warriors countered against the more wide open Legion. The loss of Mike Te’o to injury after week one did not slow down the Legion who moved Dylan Audsley to Full back in Te’os place. Kurt Morath, former Tongan international, made his debut as Fly Half for the Warriors and was successful on 80% of his kicks. Unfortunately Utah had difficulties seizing opportunities in the opposing 22, which ultimately lead to their defeat.
Looking Ahead – Week 3 Schedule
San Diego Legion V Houston Sabercats
San Diego form guide:
The Legion scrum was a drastic improvement from week one. There were limited scrum penalties against San Diego and they were even able to generate a few scrum penalties of their own. Dylan Audsley slotted into the fullback position nicely and even took over kicking duties later on in the match. The Legion defense has performed well, only allowing 5 penalties over the first two matches. The defense however will have to be at their best going against a very powerful Sabercats attack in week three. The Legion attack will also need to show their true form against the Sabercats. San Diego did feature one of the best moments from the weekend when Tadhg Leader hit a perfect cross field kick to Ryan Matyas for a try in the second half.
Houston Sabercats form guide:
Week two was a great turnaround for the Sabercats. Houston managed 7 tries in their manhandling performance against Austin Elite. The match also featured the debut of former New England Patriot fullback Joey Iosefa, who scored a try in his first touch of his rugby career.
— Aggierugger2010 (@aggierugger2010) April 30, 2018
The Sabercats defense will have to tighten up against the Legion, having allowed 35 or more points in both rounds of play. The only team with a worse points against average being Austin Elite. This match is bound to be a shootout with a lot of tries scored between both teams, whichever team can slow the opposing momentum the most will take the day.
Utah Warriors v Glendale Raptors
Utah Warriors form guide:
Although a losing effort for the Warriors, their debut match showed a lot of promise. The Warriors utilize a ground and pound attack driving directly into contact with every phase. Kurt Morath was a great player during his time with the San Diego Breakers in the now defunct PRO Rugby League. He brought those tools to immediate use against the Legion last week, and with Josh Whippy’s broken leg he is the best opportunity at fly half for the Warriors.
The key to this week will be ball control and improving the lineout. the Warriors were able to maintain possession of their attacking lineout well enough, but more due to heads up play than proper execution. Matt Jensen is a great lineout target, but Lote Tu’ipulotu must improve his throws against a ball hawk Glendale lineout. If Utah can maintain good ball control their straightforward attack will frustrate and exhaust the opposition. Although Glendale has improved their discipline this may be the chink in the armor to aim for.
Glendale Raptors form guide:
Keep on the path. The past two weeks have seen the Glendale Raptors display solid performances. Last weekend they were able to stand strong against the powerful scrum of the Seattle Seawolves and came out the better. The Raptors have maintained the best defense at full strength of any MLR team this season. The keys to this weekend will be for them to keep their cool. The Warriors will put up a lot of phases with ball in hand and Glendale will have to maintain their composure throughout the match. The lineout could be the best weapon in the Raptors arsenal, with Utah’s weakness with that set piece.
Austin Elite V NOLA Gold
Austin Elite form guide:
The Austin start has not been the brightest so far. Elite have managed to put up good points, averaging 32 points per game, but their defense has been so inept it has prevented them from drawing close to their opponents. The Elite defense bites too hard into the middle of the field leaving their wings wide open for overlaps by the opposition. The Elite must commit better to their area of the field to prevent the wide gaps that have been present on the edges so far. Austin has strong potential and a good attack, but with no defense to speak of it is all of not.
NOLA Gold form guide:
NOLA has had a week off following their strong win on the road against Houston. As would be expected JP Eloff and Sebastian Kalm had great showings in their debut outing with NOLA. This week just keeping to form and continue to strengthen the defense should go a long way for NOLA. The Elite may lack in defense, but are very strong in attack, so NOLA cannot let their guard down in Austin.
“Main photo credit: Bigshots Snapshots”