REIGNING CHAMPS HAND RUNY FIRST MLR LOSS
Written by Colton Strickler, USMLR. Vince Miller Photo Credit.
The Seattle Seawolves and Starfire Stadium claimed their latest victim on Sunday evening.
The Seawolves (3-2) welcomed red hot Rugby United New York to town for a match that featured two teams that could very well be in the mix for the MLR Championship Shield come June. Unfortunately for RUNY (2-1), their first trip to the Pacific Northwest ended like many of their MLR counterparts’ trips before them as Seattle came away with a 33-21 victory.
One of the worst things that can happen to opposing sides when they travel to play Seattle is allowing the home crowd to get into the match. That is exactly what happened on Sunday night when the Seawolves’ 8-man Eric Duechle took an offload and rumbled in for the match’s first try. Staller’s conversion gave the Seawolves a 7-0 lead.
One thing that RUNY has done well through their first two matches of the season is responding to adversity. That’s exactly what they did early on in Seattle. It only took them a few minutes to answer back with points of their own, and they did so on a beautiful play that eventually ended in a try when outside center Ben Foden fed inside center Will Leonard with an inside ball that allowed him to squirt through the defense. Cathal Marsh’s conversion evened the match at seven and RUNY was right back in the match.
They did their best to quiet the Seawolves faithful a few minutes later when 8-man Ross Deacon took a pick out of the back of the scrum and rumbled in for their second try of the match. Marsh nailed the conversion and RUNY took a 14-7 lead into the 20-minute hydration break.
Seattle came out of the water break with a try of their own when hooker Stephen Coetzee bullied his way in to slash away RUNY’s lead. Staller nailed his conversion to even the match at 14 in the 24th minute.
The Seawolves never looked back. After using their forwards to punish their way into their first two tries of the match, the Seawolves’ backline took over.
It looked as if RUNY had Seattle on their heels around midfield when an errant pass left the ball around the pitch. That was until inside center Shalom Suniula scooped up the ball and sliced his way through the RUNY defense. After a series of sharp steps, Suniula rolled over the final RUNY tackle attempt and planted the ball down for a try. This woke up an already loud Seattle crowd and gave the Seawolves a 21-14 lead following Staller’s conversion.
RUNY kept applying pressure after Suniula’s try, but a handling error around Seattle’s 22-meter line bounced right into the hands of Seawolves’ wing Brock Staller who scooped it up and ran untouched in for the try to give Seattle a 26-14 lead heading into the half.
Seattle’s offense dried up a bit after the half, and RUNY did their best to capitalize on Seattle’s slow start. RUNY threatened a handful of times deep in Seattle territory, but the Seawolves stood strong. After stuffing RUNY, Seattle used a strong defensive scrum to steal the ball and went back to their attack.
They were rewarded for their defensive effort a few minutes later when Staller chased down a ball that Ben Cima kicked over the top of the RUNY defense for the Seawolves’ final try of the match. Staller kicked his own conversion to give the Seawolves a 33-14 lead heading into the 60-minute hydration mark.
With only 20 minutes to play, RUNY needed to gain some ground in a hurry. They answered back with one more try down the stretch but were unable to muster up any more points and Seattle walked away with a 33-21 victory.
RUNY’s inability to score cost them a shot at the four-try bonus point and leaves them in sixth place with eight points on the season. The five points that Seattle picked up with their win puts them in third place with 16 total points.
RUNY will look to get back on track when they head to Houston next week to take on the SaberCats (1-2) while Seattle will enjoy their first bye of the season.
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