Colorado Raptors 22 Toronto Arrows 19
The first game set the tone for Week 5 with an upset almost no one saw coming. It was the battle of the boots early on as #12 Robbie Petzer started the match out with two penalty kicks before fullback Sam Malcolm responded to make it 6-3.
The Raptors made the first impact play of the match at 21′ when a huge hit sparked a turnover that #7 Connor Cook took most of the way before being tracked down. Colorado calmly swung the ball to the left out of the ruck and René Ranger fed John Ryberg in the corner for the game’s first score.
The Arrows struck back just four minutes later with a perfectly executed set piece play that saw winger Gaston Mieres explode through the line and dot down, then another Malcolm penalty goal made if 13-11 Arrows. A third PK from Petzer on the last play before half put the Raptors back on top, 14-13.
On the opening kickoff in the second half, wing Mika Kruse recovered a critical mishandle from Toronto and finished it himself to extend his team’s lead. Malcolm chipped away, then tied the game with two more penalty kicks and it was 19-19 heading into the final stand.
Petzer finished the game the way he started it, and this time his PK would win it, 22-19. After a disappointing start Colorado is right in the thick of things out West, and is beginning to resemble the contenders that the roster indicated it would be at the start of the season.
NOLA Gold 31 New England Free Jacks 22
The one prediction this reporter got right on a shocking opening round of games. As is custom with MLR, it was a tight match throughout, but a Cam Dolan interception sealed it for NOLA Gold.
First it was prop Dino Waldron and a conversion from #13 Carl Meyer that gave NOLA an early 7-0 lead. But this scrappy New England side struck back at 23′ via a John Poland try, and it was knotted up 7-7. Nikola Bursic dotted down eight minutes later and that lead held at halftime, 14-7.
Then it was the Free Jacks’ turn to snag the lead, but NOLA was right back and the game was tied once again, 17-17 before New England again took the lead 22-17 at 54′. Scott Gale’s score and the Meyer conversion made it 24-22 and it was anyone’s game entering the final moments. But Eagle #443 showed his veteran moxie with the intercept to seal the game, a heck of a Birthday gift for the 30-year-old #8.
Austin Gilgronis 24 Houston Sabercats 20
It took a dramatic comeback, but Austin got its first win of the season. In true MLR fashion it took a massive comeback, but a number of big-name signings are beginning to pay dividends for the Gilgronis.
Days after signing Kurt Morath, Will Magie, and Pete Cowley, Austin overcame a 17-0 deficit to stun the Houston crowd and steal the victory. Houston started the comeback late in the second half to pull within 17-7 then struck again in the second to close it o 17-14.
Austin completed the comeback 21-17 before a Sam Windsor PK closed it to 21-20. In the end, Austin tacked on a PK and held on for the 24-20 victory.
Match of the Week: Utah Warriors 33 Seattle Seawolves 31
Just another game in the Wild West. It took only four minutes for Seattle to strike first with a converted Tim Metcher try. In a preview of how the entire match would unfold, Utah struck back to tie it seven minutes later.
Then it was Seattle captain and #8 Riekert Hattingh who spotted his team the lead at 24′, and fly half Ben Cima’s second conversion made it 14-7. That score held until halftime before both offenses opened up in the second stand.
First it was Seattle with a try at 49′, then Utah off the back of a maul at 54′. Hattingh dotted down his second and Cima converted again to make it 28-21, then it was a penalty try to Utah at 77′ that knotted things up. A Cima PK at 80′ seemed to seal this one, yet it wouldn’t be decided for ten more minutes. 90 minutes into this match, Utah broke through the Seattle defense to secure the improbable win, 33-31.
The loss is a huge blow to Seattle’s chances at defending its crown, as the Seawolves now fall to 1-4, while Utah stays in playoff position at 2-2-1.
Old Glory DC 31 Rugby ATL 29
This preseason rematch between two of the East’s expansion teams did not disappoint. Things looked hairy early on for the home team, as scrummy Danny Tusitala was sent to the bin, and Rugby ATL awarded a penalty try just four minutes in.
Following a PK from DC #10 Jason Robertson, ATL extended its lead to 14-3 with a try from wing Harley Davidson and a Kurt Coleman conversion. Two more Robertson PKs and an answer from Coleman made it 17-9 before Old Glory revved up. DC finished the half on a 12-0 run, with wing Declan O’Donnell’s try well into stoppage time delivering a halftime lead to the hosts, 21-17.
ATL reclaimed the lead in the second stand, with hooker Alex Maughan’s try and the Coleman conversion. Then it was Tusitala making amends for his earlier infraction and another Robertson PK finished up the scoring for Old Glory. ATL kept fighting until the final whistle; Maughan’s second try made it 31-29, but the missed conversion kept the lead and win for Old Glory.
Old Glory now moves to 4-1 with a resurgent Raptor’s squad up next before what looks like a huge match against the San Diego Legion.
San Diego Legion 24 Rugby United New York 20
The train keeps on rolling for the Legion. In San Diego, it was no Ma’a Nonu, no JP Du Plusseis, no problem as Dylan Audsley and Ryan Matyas stepped into the centers.
The boot of fullback Joe Pietersen got things started for the hosts, then wing Tira Patterson scored the game’s first try at 14′. RUNY battled back from the early deficit with a penalty try. Then back-to-back Cathal Marsh penalty kicks put RUNY ahead at the break, 13-10.
An early run after the half from San Diego put the Legion up 24-13, and the team seemed to have seized momentum. RUNY center Will Leonard scored at 61′, however and the Marsh conversion made it just a four-point game.
RUNY threatened, parked inside San Diego’s 22 for most of the last 20 minutes. But the “Great Red Wall” held, and the Legion remain MLR’s only undefeated team.