Seattle Seawolves Outshine NOLA Gold in First Road Match


Eric Duechle charging towards the NOLA Gold defense in the second half of a very close match. (Craig Boudreaux / NOLA Gold Rugby)



May 12, 2018

NEW ORLEANS – On a hot and humid day in New Orleans, the Seattle Seawolves faced off against the NOLA Gold for their first away match of the season. Coming off of a BYE week, the Seawolves looked to clean up errors from their match against Glendale and featured a number of new faces, including Peter Smith, Nakai Penny, Mozac Samson, and Cole Van Harn.

Riekert Hattingh, out again this week while recovering from a concussion suffered in Week 1, spoke to Major League Rugby’s Peter Steinberg about their bye week preparation. “The BYE week gave us some time to do some subs, get the guys that haven’t gotten any game time yet comfortable with the moves and used to the system.”

New Orleans started the match strong by marching down the field and taking advantage of two quick taps off of penalties. Although they were able to put scrum-half Holden Yungert in a good position to get on the board, his kick failed to make it through and NOLA was forced to turn the ball over. NOLA was first on the scoreboard when Ratu Rinakama took the offload from Yungert after a quick tap resulting from a scrum penalty and was able to dot it down for the first points of the game. 5-0, NOLA.

Shortly afterward, Seattle was able to get some positive momentum going down field and put flyhalf Smith in a good position for the dropkick. The kick is good in the 19th minute, and Smith takes the game to 5-3 in his debut for the Seawolves. New Orleans answered quickly with a try immediately after the scrum. NOLA weakside wing Bobby John maintained depth, took a pass to the outside, and was able to skirt around the Seattle defense. A missed kick keeps the score at 10-3, 22’ into the game. 

Keeping their momentum going, NOLA caught Seattle off guard in the scrum and were able to drive the Seawolves back in a maul towards the try-line. Doing well to stay on their feet, NOLA drove the Seawolves defenders back to cross the plane and put on another 5 points at minute 25. The kick is no good from the outside and the score remains 15-3.

Struggling to maintain possession in the first half, the Seawolves needed to break through NOLA’s defense and come up with an answer to the Gold’s steady progress. Their answer came in the 29th minute and started with Jeremy ‘The Missle’ Misailegalu charging down the sideline to create depth. Some crisp passing to the backs led to Mat Turner driving forward and giving the Seawolves a little more breathing room. From there, Phil Mack delivered a blindside pass to Shalom Suniula off an Olive Kilifi drive before Suniula managed to lob the ball backward to Will Holder for the try. Smith makes the kick and shrinks NOLA’s lead to 15-10.

Getting some life back in their feet after scoring a try and holding off New Orleans in their try zone, Seattle had a good run of possession and an impressive driving maul to get close to the NOLA try line but were unable to cross over before the half was up. Although struggling to maintain possession at times, the Seawolves tenacious tackling keeps Seattle in the fight with a score of 15-10 in the Gold’s favor. 

After building momentum leading into the break, the Seawolves came out blazing to open up the second half. A dummy and break from Suniula puts Seattle in a good position for the maul in NOLA territory. Mack sends it to Smith who is able to connect with Shalom. A switch pass to the inside allows William Rasileka to take the ball at pace and break through the NOLA defense for the try. Smith’s kick is good and the Seawolves take the lead in the minute 45’, 17-15.

Seattle came knocking again in the 56th minute when Suniula connected with a storming Rasileka. Rasileka was able to find Turner in support, who executed a beautiful out the back pass to Peter Tiberio for Tiberio’s first try of the season. Smith sails it through the uprights and Seattle extends their lead to 24-15.

Not to be left out of the fight, NOLA hit back in the 62nd minute with a mean dummy from Taylor Howden to catch the Seawolves defense off guard and put up 5 points. Slotting the kick through cuts into Seattle’s lead with a score of 24-22 in the Seawolves favor.

Answering quickly, the Seawolves marched down the field and Turner hits a gap in the NOLA backline to give Seattle some breathing room in the tail-end of the match. Another successful kick from Smith widens Seattle’s advantage to 31-22 in minute 68’. 

As exhaustion from the heat and humidity set in the 72’ minute, the Seawolves scrum was put to the test in their own territory. Unable to hold back the Gold, Seattle was pushed back in the maul and Matt Hughston was able to peel off to dot it down for New Orleans. The kick finally goes through for the Gold and it’s a 2-point game at 31-29 with seven minutes to go.

As the rain started coming down, New Orleans made a last gasp effort to overtake the Seawolves. Following a few breaks, the Gold was able to get within 20 meters of the Seattle try line, but a scrum awarded to Seattle and yellow-card to NOLA for a late hit on Smith ended the home team’s hopes. The Seawolves kicked it to touch to end the game with a score of 31-29 and take their record to 2-1 on the season.

The Seawolves now turn their attention to Sunday, May 20 when they return to Starfire Sports to face the Utah Warriors in front of another sold-out crowd. Standing Room Only tickets are available for purchase here. Kickoff will be at 5:30 PM and regional viewers can watch on ROOT SPORTS NW and all domestic viewers can tune in with ESPN+ streaming service. International viewers can tune in by visiting Major League Rugby’s Facebook page for a stream on the day of.



A founding member of Major League Rugby (MLR), the Seattle Seawolves kickoff their inaugural season in 2018 at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Washington. With an ownership group led by Seattle-based entrepreneurs Adrian Balfour and Shane Skinner, the organization strives to develop, cultivate and expand the game of rugby in the U.S. while fostering discipline, duty, respect and a spirit of inclusion both on and off the pitch. Through community outreach efforts, the Seattle Seawolves fulfill a key pillar of the franchise’s philosophy, enriching the Puget Sound region’s youth through engagement, leadership, and service. Select Major League Rugby games will be televised on the CBS Sports Network as part of an exclusive, multi-year television partnership between MLR and the television network. Though 2018 Season tickets are no longer available, click here to join the waitlist for 2019 season tickets.


Media Contacts: 

Carly MacKinnon,

Marketing & PR Coordinator, Seattle Seawolves


Will Lytle,

PR Assistant, Seattle Seawolves