Sunday, April 22, 2018

Penalty Tries Push Seattle Past San Diego

Photo: Connie Hatfield

The big worry for the San Diego Legion coming into the season was whether they had the forwards to compete. They certainly have a star-studded backline but it doesn't go any good if their fowards can't keep up. There was no similar concern for the Seattle Seawolves as they began the season as they had a number of experienced players in the front-row. In the end that turned out to be the difference as three penalties tries gave Seattle a 39-23 win over San Diego.

Off the pitch it was just as successful for the Seawolves as they played to a packed Starfire Stadium that had atmosphere well before kick off. The fans were into it and that translated to the players on the pitch as they were able be the better side in most phases of the game.

San Diego made their intent known early in the match as flyhalf Ben Cima had several early attempts at goal. His first was good to give Seattle a 3-0 lead. Each team had several opportunities at goal as the discipline wasn't strong. That was expected in the first game of the season. Soon Will Holder will hit a penalty of his own to level the game at 3-3.

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The first big break of the day came not long after the first water. San Diego had the most of the possession in the early part of the match but when they did have the ball Seattle looked dangerous. Soon that turned into Brock Staller scoring from a scrum to push the lead to 10-3 after he converted his own try. San Diego would add a penalty after that but Seattle's defense was simply too strong. San Diego enjoyed few opportunities in the 22 and most of their work was done in the middle of the pitch. When they did look threatening the Seattle defense was there to clean it up.

The match turned decisively in favor of Seattle just before the half. The Legion scrum was under pressure all half and finally it cracked as the referee awarded a penalty try. Soon after prop Sione Tuihalamaka was shown a yellow card making matters worse.

In the the second half Cima would hit his third penalty of the match and San Diego did have some opportunities, especially on their effective maul. Both teams seemed sluggish for the first part of the half until the Seattle scrum took over once again with two straight penalty tries, the first in the 56th minute an date second in the 68th minute. The second try was especially important as San Diego had scored via their maul just two minutes early to make it a match. The second try for Seattle helped give them a margin San Diego couldn't overcome. Cam Polson had the final try for Seattle with five minutes to go.

Overall, Seattle looked like a strong team. They had only one closed-door pre-season match under their belts coming into today but they delivered in a big way. They have the forwards to do work and the backs may not be the flashiest but they showed they can get the job done. They also have the depth to compete over the length of the season. Glendale on Saturday will be a big test for the Seawolves.

For the Legion they leave their first meeting with lots of questions. Can they fix their scrum issues in time to be effective this season or did they not bring in the right personnel in the first place? They have the backs to score tries but can they get enough of a platform to make that happen? These are questions the Legion need to figure out fast. They'll get a chance against the Utah Warriors to figure that out next week.


Penalties: Holder
Conversions: Staler, Penalty (3), Holder
Tries: Staler, Penalty (3), Polson

San Diego

Penalties: Cima (3)
Conversions: Cima
Tries: Turori


  1. Anyone know if the MLR matches will be on youtube? Or will the US continue to hide its matches forcing fans to watch Super and European rugby.

    1. The matches are on CBS Sports Network.
      All three came right to my DVR, if I wasn't watching them live. No paywall or anything.
      If you are outside the USA you may have problems, but I've never found games so easily.

  2. All of them are available on the MLR Facebook page: if you're outside of the US. I watched them all live - really good quality rugby.