Joe Harvey gives us an update on the action across the pond as the MLR enters its sixth week
San Diego Legion @ Austin Elite Rugby
This was a game that went against the form book. Before the kick-off Austin were at rock bottom of the table. This had been a surprise considering that they have the likes of the Suniula brothers, Pedrie Wannenburg and USA legend Todd Clever so a big result was coming for the side. San Diego have struggled for form since their last gasp win over the SaberCats in the first week of May.
Austin began the game strongly, putting the San Diego defence under pressure early on. This early pressure meant that San Diego conceded a penalty that Timothee Guillimin scored when the game was merely eight minutes old.
Siaosi Finau was the next Austin player to have an influence on the game. The Texas native burst over the line in order to extend the Elite’s lead. Guillimin converted the score. However, Austin’s first half was far from over. United States international Hanco Germishuys scored another try to extend his try-scoring lead in the league and allowed his teammate Guillimin to get another two points from the kicking tee. Whilst this was only the twentieth minute, Austin had raced into a seventeen-point lead that remained until half time.
Austin started the second half in a similar fashion to how they started the first. Zinzan Elan-Puttick opened up his account for the season. Elan-Puttick is a South African native who attended Arkansas State University and previously played for Glendale. Guillimin converted again for Austin.
Then came the highlight of what was a pretty dire day for San Diego. Homegrown flanker Drew Gaffney scored a try that would give the San Diego fans a brief sense of jubilation. That jubilation was not set to last however as the subsequent conversion was missed.
The Elite were soon back in the driving seat. This time it was scrum-half Marcus Walsh who darted over the line to score in the seventieth minute. This try allowed Guillimin to bring his total points score of the afternoon to 11 when he converted Walsh’s try. This meant that Austin beat San Diego a staggering 31-5.
This result lifted Austin off the base of the table to reach the heady heights of fourth. This also meant that Austin overtook San Diego by one point going into this weekend’s fixtures.
Utah Warriors @ Houston SaberCats
The second game of this weekend was far more competitive than the first. The SaberCats have faded in recent weeks with their results but have always been involved in exciting affairs. Their opposition on this day was the vastly improving Utah, hoping to forget their loss the previous week in Seattle.
Houston got off to a quick start. The MLR’s top points scorer Sam Windsor got an early three points from the boot. Moments later Fijian seven’s legend Osea Kolinisau scored another try for the SaberCats and allowed Windsor to get another two points off the tee.
Utah then began to get a foot hold in the game. The Warriors scored fourteen points in the space of five minutes to take control of the fixture. The first try was scored by USA lock Matthew Jensen who bundled the ball over the line. Lance Williams also scored a try and talismanic fly-half Kurt Morath converted both tries.
It was then Houston’s turn to be on top. Farmer and Fiji sevens player Josua Vici went over to score for the SaberCats. True to form Sam Windsor converted the try and them proceeded to score a penalty. Utah were the team who ended the first half’s scoring through a Morath penalty.
The second half started with a Utah try. Scrum-half Don Pati went over the line just three minutes after the new half began. Morath kept up his good kicking form by easily slotting over for the extra two points. Three minutes later Sam Windsor scored another penalty for Houston.
In the fourty-eighth minute Utah Winger Tonata Lauti scored a try in the corner that Morath was unable to convert. There was then a fourteen-minute wait for any more points to be scored. English scrum-half Connor Murphy went over for the second week running to keep his side in the game. Naturally, Sam Windsor scored the conversion to give Houston a one point lead with just uder twenty minutes to go.
Utah scored their winning points with ten minutes to go. Tongan hooker Lote Tuipulotu kept up his impressive try scoring rum by getting over the line. Tuipulotu’s countryman Morath added the two points. No further points were scored during the game, meaning that Utah won away from home; 30-36.
This result meant that Utah moved up to third place as Houston slipped to the foot of the table in seventh position.
NOLA Gold @ Seattle Seawolves
Both of these sides were victorious in the two games that were played last week. So, this set up the stand-out candidate for the game of the week. And boy did it deliver.
Seattle’s Brock Staller started the game that would see him easily take the title of MLR’s player of the week. The big Canadian winger bagged fourteen points in the opening six minutes. This came through two lung-busting tries and two conversions.
Not too long after getting fourteen points, Staller was already getting his sixteenth. Seawolves number eight Eric Duechle went over the try-line and Staller calmly added the conversion.
NOLA eventually got on the scoresheet through USA prop and former Queensland resident Ben Tarr. Fly-half Taylor Howden calmly converted the score.
Staller was on the scoresheet again not too long after. This came through a penalty and a conversion as courtesy of a Mathew Turner try.
NOLA received a penalty try, courtesy of Brock Staller’s infringement as NOLA were driving towards the Seattle line. Staller received a yellow card for his troubles on what was a busy afternoon for the Canadian.
NOLA made the most of their man advantage. Centre Moni Tonguaiha burst over the line to make the score line a lot closer than how it would end. Taylor Howden converted the score to bring half-time.
In the fourty-third minute NOLA scored their only points of the half through scrum-half Michael Baska. However, on this occasion Taylor Howden was unable to get his side any more points from the conversion.
So ensued what was a very dominant Seawolves side. As Staller was still off the field US Army officer Will Holder took control of the kicking duties. He kicked a penalty before converting Aladdin Shirmer’s try, even though Staller was back on the try by that point.
It was Seattle’s hooker who next got over the line. Daniel Trierweiler who is a twelve year veteran of the club extended his side’s lead and allowed Staller to nail another conversion.
The game would end through another superb Mathew Turner try, the former England sevens player glided through to score his second try of the afternoon. Staller ended the afternoon with twenty-five points following his conversion of Turner’s second try.
Stallers impressive form does make you wonder why he is nowhere near the Canada side for the upcoming games against Scotland, Russia and the United States.
This result saw Seattle take over Glendale in the overall table. However, having said this Glendale currently have a game in hand so could still take top spot. NOLA slipped to fifth because of Austin’s victory.