Seattle Seawolves Defeat San Diego Legion 38-24 in Semi-Finals - Face Glendale Raptors in Inaugural MLR Championship Game Next Weekend - Four Canadian Players in Starting Roster: FULL MATCH VIDEO
The Seawolves have made the first MLR final by defeating San Diego in the semis and will face #1 ranked Glendale Raptors in the final. These were the two top teams throughout the season so it's fitting they meet in the final.
There were four Canadian players starting for Seattle, player/coach Phil Mack, Ray Barkwill, Cam Polson, and Brock Staller.
The game was tied at 3-3 and the first try came at 8 minutes for San Diego. A box kick by Mack from inside his 22 didn't find touch and drifted more in field than he would have wanted. The Seattle defensive line didn't come up quickly and the San Diego fullback, Pietersen, bounced out of a Barkwill tackle and scampered in from 30 metres out. Not the start Seattle would have wanted with a couple of inaccuracies creeping in. 10-3
San Diego were threatening to go ahead by two tries at the 20 minute mark with a 5 metre scrum outside the Seattle goal area. This is where tighthead Tim Metcher, a prop with Super Rugby experience, brought in via Nanaimo Hornets, earned his money. It was his side of the scrum that surged ahead and won the penalty for Seattle, it was a get out of jail card in the game for Seattle. Up to this point San Diego had over 80% of the territory and the game was being played in the Seattle half.
At the 30 minute mark Seattle got their first sniff of a try, it came off a penalty for knocking a pass down, that gave them the territory at the San Diego 22. From the lineout Mack and Barkwill went blindside to gain a few yards, then their South African #8, Rieckert Hattingh made a storming run from 10 metres out but knocked the ball on while trying to ground it. Three minutes later, now with some territory pressure well inside the San Diego half, they were able to convert with a great run by #12 Shalom Suniula, game tied, 10-10.
At the 35 minute mark a turning point as Seattle destroy the Legion scrum and win a penalty. The ball was inside the Seattle half with the Legion having the attacking scrum, it was a full 8 man effort from the Seawolves and they just crushed San Diego. It's the type of play that changes the complexion of the game and creates a mental edge for the dominant scrum.
From the ensuing lineout and phase play Mack almost scampers in and goes to offload to Barkwill who is attentively running lines off Mack but a San Diego defender intercepts.
The play goes back and forth with San Diego attacking to end the first half, 10-10.
The second half starts and Seattle are pressing but the Legion's counter-rucking has been strong and for the 3rd or 4th time so far this game they push Seattle off the ball and steal possession. The first player for Seattle at the breakdown, especially if it's a back, have poor body position and are getting blown off the ball too easily.
At 46 minutes San Diego have a 5 metre scrum and are pressing. Seattle have brought in replacements, Kellen Gordon replaces Olive Kilifi and Sequoyah Combs replaces Brock Staller. The new prop immediately has an effect as Seattle apply pressure from the loosehead side and win the penalty. It's the third time the Seattle scrum has changed the course of the match.
San Diego get the first try of the second half, it starts with a turnover inside their half when Seattle flyhalf Peter Smith threw a tentative pass that missed his player and went right into the arms of Legion winger Taku Ngwenya. A few phases later their #8, Drew Gaffney, finds a huge gap and scores the try. 17-10
At 61 minutes Seattle are pressing and choose a 5 metre scrum on a penalty in front of the posts. The penalty is for a no wrap tackle and Legion get a player sent off, it's 14 v 15 now in Seattle's favour. It's a new front row now for Seattle and they don't have the dominance they did to start the match. Aladdin Schirmer is also on now at blindside flanker. Seattle win the scrum and in the backs they use big centre William Rasileka in a move that cuts inside and he's over under the posts. It's tied up again, 17-17 with 15 minutes to go.
The hero of the day is winger Peter Tiberio as he intercepts a pass as San Diego are attacking out wide near the Seattle 22, he runs it the length of the pitch for a crucial go ahead try. 24-17
Another yellow card to San Diego seals their fate, the replacement forward Siaosi Mahoni clumsily contests the kickoff and Duechle hits the ground hard. It's going to be hard to claw back into the match another man down. It's inevitable that Seattle find the overlap out wide, it's replacement winger Combs who converts, 31-17
The floodgates open, a strong run by fullback Mat Turner puts the ball into the San Diego 22 and a few phases later replacement prop John Hayden rumbles over, 38-17.
San Diego scores a try at the whistle from broken play, final score 38-24.