Promising Moments Not Enough for Full 80 Against Austin


Photo by Matthew Bradford

AUSTIN, TEXAS (April 25, 2021) - The Seattle Seawolves traveled to Austin, Texas to take on the Austin Gilgronis in week 6 of Major League Rugby. Looking to bounce back from a loss to Toronto, a new line up for the Seawolves showcased two team tries and one penalty kick in their fifth away match of the 2021 season. Austin capitalized on opportunities on both sides of the ball though to earn the victory,15-42 Austin Gilgronis.

Seattle kicked off the first half to the Gilgronis, who set up an exit kick straight away. The Seawolves threw the ball back into play but it was stolen in the line out. Austin worked the ball wide, only to find wing Ross Neal made a great tackle to force the knock on. Seattle scrum. Fly half Kieran Joyce moved the ball wide to wing Sitiveni Tamaivena for a strong carry. A string of four penalties against Austin saw a yellow card early on, sending their hooker to the sin bin for 10 minutes. A series of losing possession of the ball put Seattle in a tough spot but they were able to dig themselves out of with a technical scrum. After an exiting kick, Austin attempted a drop goal for three points that missed and rolled out the back of the try zone. Seawolves restarted the match with a 22 meter drop out kick and Austin landed a penalty attempt that was converted into 3 points. 0-3, Austin at the 14th minute.

After the restart, the Gilgronis kicked the ball back to Seattle as number eight Riekert Hattingh carried hard through the midfield to set up an attacking platform for the visiting team. A penalty allowed Joyce to kick to touch to set up a Seattle line out. Retaining possession in the set piece, scrum half Devereaux Ferris moved the ball to Joyce, who fed a short pass to Neal on a strike line and fended the sole defender in the back field to score just outside of the uprights. Joyce converted the kick after for two extra points, 7-3 Seattle at the 17th minute. Seattle’s momentum continued as hooker Obert Nortje got over the ball for a clean steal, allowing Joyce to kick a deep ball to touch for a Seattle line out. Austin stole the line out and was able to exit, but the kick did not travel far. The Seawolves got another shot at an attacking line out, this time maintaining possession and stringing together phases of attack. But a knock on gave the ball back to Austin who kicked up field. Tamaivena carried hard to the 50 m to midfield. Ferris box kicked high, and Austin fielded the catch cleanly, calling mark inside their 22 meter and earning a free kick. The kick pinned Seattle back in their territory at the 20th minute.

Seawolves threw in the ball but Austin stole it, and despite great tackles from Seattle Austin was able to offload the ball to keep it alive and score the first try the match. Kick was good, 7-10 Austin at the 24th minute. Austin kept the ball with the forwards after the restart before sending a up a high kick that both teams contested, but the home team was offsides and Seattle was awarded a penalty. Joyce called for the kicking tee and nailed the penalty from 40 meters away. 10-10 at the 27th minute. Both teams were able to maintain possession consistently, struggling with not runs and penalties. Finally quick play from Austin was rewarded with a penalty and they added three points to take back the lead, 10-13 Austin at the 37th minute. In the next attacking phase, missed tackles from Seattle and strong leg drive from the offense opened up a scoring opportunity for Austin before the half. Kick was no good, 10-18 Austin at halftime.

Austin kicked off the second half as promising attack from Seattle turned into a miscued kick pass by Seattle, and Austin found the try zone once more. Kick was no good, 10-23 at the 44th minute. Getting the ball back, the Gilgronis didn’t take their foot off the pedal and scored again with their forwards right under the uprights. No kick needed, 10 - 30 Austin at the 48th minute. Back and forth play ensued as things got a bit messy and resulted in a Seattle scrum. Seattle set up the exit kick, relieving pressure but giving Austin the line out. The throw in was fumbled, and Nortje recovered. Seattle kept possession but was not making any forward progress. Austin got called for a not releasing penalty though, giving Seattle a break. The penalty allowed the Seawolves to work up field, but Austin stripped the ball in contact and the quick turnover play kickstarted a Gilgronis counterattack. Knock ons from both teams kept play choppy as they headed into the final 10 minutes of the match. Flanker Tommy Clark recovered the ball after being lost forwarded by Austin, and reactive play earned captain Hattingh a try of his own. Replacement fly half Juan Pablo Aguirre-Romaro attempted the points after but missed, 15-30 Austin at the 72nd minute. The Gilgronis came firing right back with another try of their own from their forwards with pick-and-go attacking efforts. Kick after was good, 15-37 Austin at the 74th minute. Shortly after, Austin stole the ball from a Seattle ruck and took off down the field, eventually chased down by center Setareki Tuilevuka into touch. With an exit opportunity in hand, Seattle missed kicking the ball into touch after the line out. Austin marched down again with ball in hand and scored their final try of the evening in the 81st minute, despite messy handling. Final score, 15-42 Austin.

Neal 16’
Hattingh 72‘

Joyce 17’

Joyce 27’

The Seattle Seawolves (1-4) finally return to Starfire Stadium next week for their first home match since March 2020. Rugby United New York (3-2) travels to Tukwila, Washington as Seattle look to defend their home stand on Sunday, May 2. Kickoff is at 5:00 PM PT on ROOT SPORTS and The Rugby Network. Match capacity is limited, and the match is sold out. Learn more about our return to Starfire here.