Seattle Surge Back Too Late, Fall Short in San Diego


Photo by Connie Hatfield / Pink Shorts Photography

San Diego, California — The CBS Sports Game of the Week proved to be the highlight of the Major League Rugby opening weekend in a close, West Coast clash with the 2019 championship teams, the Seattle Seawolves and the San Diego Legion. Even with a second half push that saw 14 Seattle points added to the scoreboard, San Diego took the win in the first of two meetings of the western conference heavy weights this 2020 season.

First Half:

Flyhalf Scott Dean kicked off to San Diego to get the highly anticipated match under way. San Diego stuck to their usual kick-chase offense, dishing the ball back high to apply pressure on Seattle. Seawolves’ diligent attack was rewarded a penalty against San Diego in their own half, seeing Wing Brock Staller call for the kicking tee. The attempt for three points went right, keeping the score 0-0. The restart after the miss set Seattle up for success and drew another penalty for Staller to try again. This time he was true on his strike. 3-0 Seattle. Handling errors by San Diego gave Seattle a platform for their attack as Captain Riekert Hattingh finished the efforts of a 40-meter break by Flanker Nakai Penny. Staller’s kick after was good. Seattle 10-0. The Legion quickly struck back with a forward try of their own, capitalizing on a penalty to mau their first points of the game in. Kick unsuccessful, Seattle 10-5. With momentum in their favor, San Diego marched back down into Seattle territory and after an interception attempt by Outside Center Ross Neal, the Legion were able to run in a second try. Kick was good. San Diego 12-10. The next phases of play were an even contest, but San Diego executed on the next scoring opportunity with another mauling effort and a converted kick to end the half. San Diego 19-10 at half time.

Second Half:

In the first minutes of the second half, the Legion came out flying and scored another try after a tight-rope run from their winger and converted extra points. San Diego extended their lead, 26-10. Seattle started to fight back, stalling further offensive opportunities but back-to-back errors in the set piece allowed San Diego to play quick and break away for another try. Kick was good, San Diego 33-10. Seattle continued to work and were rewarded in doing so after Hooker Vili Toluta’u touched down for a try after a maul drove over San Diego’s try line. Dean made the kick for two more points. San Diego, 33-17. Seawolves were then able to capitalize on a string of penalties by San Diego that set up Outside Center George Barton to barrel through on a great line to score in the center. Dean converted the kick after. San Diego, 33-24 in the 66’ minute. The score line narrowed heading into the final 10 minutes of the match but the chance to complete the comeback dwindled from small errors by the visitors. San Diego was awarded a penalty just outside the try zone and kept Seattle out of reach of a fourth try that would’ve earned them a bonus point in the standings. Full time, San Diego 33-24.

Next Hunt:

The Seattle Seawolves look to bounce back on the road next week against Old Glory D.C. in the national’s capital on Sunday, February 16. The match will be broadcast on ROOT SPORTS and ESPN+ regionally and domestically while international viewers can tune in to Major League Rugby’s Facebook at 12:00 pm PST.