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Monday, May 7, 2018

San Diego Down Houston, Move To Second

For the second week in a row the San Diego Legion have picked up a victory. They beat the visiting Houston SaberCats 35-32 in San Diego. The Legion had a very shaky start to the season with a lopsided result against Seattle but have since rebounded with results against Utah and Houston. That is good enough for second in the competition. For the SaberCats it is a regression as they moved to 1-2 on the year.

Both teams traded possession and chances early. San Diego made the first move but couldn't get through the Houston defense. Houston similarly had difficulties penetrating the San Diego line. Eventually, Houston would have the best chance early as Connor Mills collected a kick but was stopped short. However, Osea Kolinisau collected the ball and moved forward for the first score. With the conversion Houston were up with ten minutes gone. Sam Windsor would add a penalty just a minute later to make it 10-0.

San Diego weren't down for long. Stealing a lineout on their own 22 JP du Plessis made the initial break before passing to Nate Augspurger who found a streaking Anthony Salaber for the Legion's opening try. The conversion was good cutting the score to 10-7 at the first water break.

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Despite the pause the Legion kept coming. Once again it was Augspurger pulling the strings looking for his backs in position. Eventually he found Dylan Audsley who drew in the defense and passed out to Salaber to give the Legion their first lead. It was the second fantastic support line from Salaber to justifiably give him a second try. The conversion made it 14-10.

Houston wasn't out and did a good job responding. Kolinisau was the danger man all match and soon an incursion from him resulted in a penalty. Just a few minutes later nice hands from the likes of Matt Trouville sprung Elkins into space. He was caught but Windsor was there to score to put the SaberCats up 20-14.

Not to be outdone the Legion showed some nice hands of their own as Salaber completed his first half hat-trick. It all started with Ryan Matyas finding space on the wing. That would give the Legion a one point lead. They could have even extended that but with a man in space they knocked it on to end the half. At the half it was 21-20 to the Legion.

A penalty from Windsor would restore Houston to the advantage not long into the half. However, it was a heads up play from du Plessis finished off by Pat Blair that would steal momentum away to the Legion.  Windsor tried to stop that with another penalty that cut the lead to 28-26.

San Diego was thought to have a strong offense before the season started and it showed through on the day but defensively they played better than a team that ultimately gave up 32 points. Head coach Rob Hoadley has to be happy in that regard and in the general improvement since week one.

For their part Houston kept turning over the scoreboard with another Windsor penalty to give them a 29-28 lead but they couldn't find that final try they needed. Osea Kolinisau probably had the moment of the match with a drop goal to extend the lead with five minutes to go. It looked liked that might be enough until some late minute heroics. A deep lineout throw from Houston was not straight. San Diego tried to take advantage but couldn't. Still, they were bailed out with a not releasing call and on the reset they stayed patient for the winning try. 

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