Major League Rugby Breakdown – Week Three

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Major League Rugby is growing into an exciting conference more and more, with every week. Three more first class matches will engage fans, prior to the US Eagles summer series fixtures. Look forward to the Major League Rugby Breakdown - Week Three
Major League Rugby - Glendale Raptors host the Utah Warriors, on May 5, 2018 (Photo credit Aaron Cornia)

Major League Rugby is growing into an exciting conference more and more, with every week of the 2018 season.

The progress that Major League Rugby is making from week-to-week is truly amazing. The reality of regular, professional rugby union is now a reality, so enjoy our Major League Rugby breakdown.

As the weekly results are analyzed, trends and patterns become apparent. The points difference in week one matches averaged over 13 points. This past weekend was reduced to seven points. Defensively though, the league is slower to improve; with only NOLA Gold scoring less than 20 points this past weekend.

Austin Elite were finally able to piece their defense together and secured their first win against NOLA this past weekend. They have had a strong attack all year [including pre-season] but allowed 12 tries scored against them over the first two matches. This last round, they were able to keep NOLA in check. Allowing only 17 points and gaining their first win of the season.

Major League Rugby Breakdown

After their hiccup in week one, San Diego Legion have played well and fought back to the number two spot in the rankings. Legion was able to hold down a powerful Houston Sabercats attack in week two. Their scrum has continued to be solid since their issues against the Seattle Seawolves to start off the season. That improvement allowing for a much more stable platform.

The Glendale Raptors’ undefeated streak was in peril against a very strong Utah Warriors. The match was drawn-up until Glendale pulled ahead, with only seven minutes remaining. A final try with five minutes left on the clock, proved too much for the Warriors to see Glendale as the only undefeated team in Major League Rugby.

See current MLR standings here.

With all teams having played matches, it had also allowed the national team selectors time to rifle through the footage. And in doing so, they were able to judge based on a high-level competition – the major benefit for both fans, and stakeholders.

Overwhelming number of players from MLR in June ‘summer series’

On Tuesday, USA Rugby announced the 30 man squad for this year’s summer series. Of those 30 men, 18 are current MLR players. This is a huge step to improving the game in the United States.

The biggest problem for the Eagles has been that very few national players had experience with one another. With 18 players across all seven teams, this will build a better team culture within the Eagles squad.

San Diego Legion = 7 players selected

Dylan Audsley (Center, currently playing Fullback), Nate Auspurger (Scrum Half), Ben Cima (Fly Half), Cam Dolan (Number 8), Tony Lamborn (Flanker), Siaosi Mahoni (Lcok), Ryan Matayas (wing).

Glendale Raptors = 6 players

Bryce Campbell (Center), Shaun Davies (Scrum Half), Dylan Fawsitt (Hooker), Ben Landry (Lock), Will Magie (Fly Half), John Quill (Flanker).

Utah Warriors = 2 players

David Tameilau (Flanker), Paul Lasike (Center).

Houston Sabercats = 1 player

Paul Mullen (Prop).

Seattle Seawolves = 1 player

Olive Kilifi (Prop).

Austin Elite = 1 player

Hanco Germishuys (Flanker).

With all these players ‘on duty’ there might be a void created. And for a newly established competition, the summer series will benefit players International credentials but, it will also place a pressure on those teams where a higher quantity of players are away.

The US Eagles schedule is both a blessing, and a hindrance on consistency of performance.

Looking Ahead – MLR Week 4 fixtures

Utah Warriors v Austin Elite

It seemed after the first two weeks that Austin may have been in for a very difficult seasons. After two convincing losses, their future did not look bright.

Their outlook changed after a very convincing win in their home opener against NOLA Gold. The Elite’s powerful attack was finally meshed with a strong defensive performance to give the Elite a strong win.

Footage courtesy of USMLR

The biggest question for Austin is ‘will they be able to keep that momentum on the road against the Utah Warriors?’

The Warriors came within a breath of beating the seemingly ‘unstoppable Glendale’ last week. The Utah attack is like a freight train, steady and powerful. One that can break through anything. While the Austin Elite’s defense had a great showing against
NOLA, Utah is likely to ‘smash into the defense’ continually….. until it breaks.

NOLA Gold v Seattle Seawolves

Both teams will be looking to bounce back from losses in their previous matches. Seattle has had a week of rest since their narrow loss to Glendale in week two. The big test though, will be how Seattle travels? (being their first away match of the season).

Hopefully the Seawolves utilized their week off to work on their attack. In the first two weeks, Seattle only managed four tries – not including penalty tries. With their apparent weak attack, it will be very difficult to keep up with the speed of the NOLA attack.

NOLA’s power and speed were stifled following the loss of Sebastian Kalm in last weeks match-up against Austin Elite. If Kalm continues to be out with injury, NOLA needs to find another source of strength within the team. The late breakdown of NOLA’s defense did not help things, as they lost the lead and thus allowed 14 points over the final quarter of the match.

If NOLA can get past those hang-ups, they stand in very good position this weekend.

Glendale Raptors v San Diego Legion

This is the match up of the week for the Breakdown. And even while this match will be epic, it will not be broadcast on CBS-SN or ESPN+. Fans should look to the Raptors facebook page for a link.

Both teams have a strong attack and rapidly improving defense. San Diego won in dramatic fashion with a ‘plus time’ try to secure their victory. Meanwhile, Glendale has done well with their biggest mistake;┬átheir discipline. Following three cards in week one, the Raptors have had only one yellow card in the two games since. Add to that control, Glendale has great set piece, and a decent defense.

San Diego on the other hand, has come a long way since their week one loss to Seattle. Although their Scrum still needs some improvement, before going against the strength of Glendale. The Legion is still missing Mike Te’o, who’s injury may be severe (as he was not listed on the US squad for the upcoming June tests). Gladly, Dylan Audsley has done well in his absence, but no one can replace a healthy Te’o. His loss will continue to be felt throughout the season.

Glendale has played hard, but have only narrowly won their last two matches. Will Glendale be able to keep up their luck? or will San Diego finally break their win streak?

It all points to another three thrilling matches. Keep aware of the match outcomes, with the Major League Rugby breakdown each week. If you have any feedback, please comment below or share it on our Facebook page.

“Main photo credit: Aaron Cornia”

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