Seattle Seawolves defend MLR title with 26-23 win over San Diego

Seattle Seawolves clinched their second MLR title
Seattle Seawolves clinched their second MLR title

Seattle Seawolves successfully defended their Major League Rugby title after they went on to defeat San Diego 26-23 in the final.

In what was a thrilling encounter in front of 5,000 spectators, Johan Pietersen kicked back to back penalties in the sixth and 22nd minutes to get San Diego Legion off the mark. The opening try though came for Seawolves through Stephanus Coetzee in the 23rd minute and Juan-Philip Smith followed the suit 10 minutes later.

Brock Staller kicked the conversion on both the occasion as the teams went into the break with a 6-14 scoreline.

Legion had a better start to the second half with touchdowns from Nicklas Boyer (53') and Jordan Manihera (65') and with Pietersen converting both the scoreline became 20-14 but Riekert Hattingh's try in the 72nd minute kept Seattle in the game.

San Diego thought they had the game following a drop goal from Pietersen in the 78th minute but a last gasp try from Brad Tucker ensured Seattle sealed a thrilling three point win.

The MLR kick-started in 2018 with seven teams and saw the addition of Toronto Arrows and Rugby United New York in the 2019 season with both the teams reaching the play-off. The 2020 season will now see three more teams - New England Free Jacks, Old Glory DC and Rugby ATL - added to the tournament.

“It was our sophomore year and we grew a little bit, and that’s an atypical thing in the world of sports. Your second year is usually kind of a tough year, and I think we grew and I think we’re poised to build," MLR commissioner Dean Howes said.

“I think Boston and DC had some really shining moments on the games they put on. Atlanta’s going to put some on in a little while. So I think they’ll jump in and be equal to anybody.

“I think it’s still a young enough league that a coach and good player selection and a good system can make a huge difference.”

Highlights of the game