Colton’s Corner Week 16: State of the League
Colton’s Corner will be a weekly feature on five topics from around MLR.
Arrows Pick Up Two Wins in Four Days
With a tough win over a scrappy Utah Warriors side on Sunday afternoon, the Toronto Arrows picked up their third win in eight days. That is making the best out of a tough situation. In doing so, the Arrows improved to 9-5 on the season and currently sit in third place with 48 total points in the table. The biggest knock on the Arrows through the first two months of the season was that they were inconsistent. They alternated wins and losses for nine consecutive weeks. It was clear that if they could consistently put complete games together, they had the talent to hang with any team in Major League Rugby. That’s exactly what they’ve done over the last few weeks. Sunday’s victory marked their fifth straight victory and put them in prime position to lock up a playoff spot. Their final bye of the season couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. They’ll enjoy a well-earned week of rest before playing out the final two matches of the regular season. A seven-game win streak would be a nice wave to ride into the postseason.
Gold Fall in Another MLR Classic
Any match that involves both the NOLA Gold and the San Diego Legion is appointment television. Teams give the Gold their best effort. That’s what happens when you hover around the top of the table for as long as NOLA has this season. For the second time in three weeks, the Gold have found themselves involved in the middle of two all-time classic MLR matches. They battled the then second place Seattle Seawolves back on April 21 and took on the second place Legion on Saturday afternoon in a battle for the top of the table. Unfortunately for NOLA, they’ve come out on the wrong end of both of those matches, but it’s certainly not for a lack of effort. The breaks of the game didn’t go NOLA’s way on Sunday, but they’ve proven at several different points of the season that they have the ability to make their own luck when things don’t go their way. That trait combined with the tough lessons they’ve had to learn over the last few weeks will be huge come playoff time.
Seawolves Build Momentum for Home Stretch
The next chapter of Major League Rugby’s first great rivalry will take place on Saturday afternoon. With their win over Rugby United New York on Saturday evening, the defending champion Seattle Seawolves have put themselves in prime position to make their final push for a playoff spot. They were fresh off a bye week, picked up a win against a RUNY team that hasn’t been easy to beat, and have brought in dangerous reinforcements in Samu Manoa and Jeff Hassler to help get them across the finish line. They currently sit in fourth place with 46 points and three matches to play. They’ll have their hands full on Saturday afternoon with a Glendale Raptors side that remains the only Major League Rugby club that has yet to lose a match on their home turf. Glendale finds themselves four points behind the Seawolves for the fourth and final playoff spot. Saturday’s match will be the fifth overall meeting between the two clubs and the all-time series is tied 2-2 heading into the match. Combine the history of these two sides with the fact that playoff hopes are on the line and we’re bound to bear witness to another classic match between the Seawolves and the Raptors. I can’t wait.
One of the most interesting parts of Major League Rugby’s second season is seeing how the results have changed over the course of the extended season. When I chatted with Sam Windsor of the Houston SaberCats back in April, he mentioned that he was eager to see what would happen to the results as the season wound down. It’s been a three-part story. At the beginning of the season, when every team is as healthy as they can be, the majority of the matches were dictated by defense. As the wear and tear of the season began to take its toll on all of the clubs, the offense opened up. Now, as teams are beginning to get healthy again, we are beginning to see the scores come back down to earth again. The pattern we’ve witnessed thus far makes sense, but I still find the twist and turns of this young league to be very interesting. There is still five weeks of rugby to be played so I wouldn’t be surprised if the season didn’t throw us at least one more curveball before it’s all said and done.
Men on a Mission
“We now move onto Utah next Saturday. There is no focus beyond that game. We have to stay on mission each week.” – San Diego Legion head coach Rob Hoadley
I’ve used the phrase, “Men on a mission” several times throughout the season to describe the way the San Diego Legion play. It’s all business every time they take the pitch. According to head coach Rob Hoadley, the mentality they take into every match is that every match is, in fact, a mission. That mentality is what has helped them become the first team in the MLR to reach 10 wins on the season and propel them back into first place in the table heading into their final two matches. They bounced back from a heartbreaking loss to the Toronto Arrows a week earlier with a gritty road win over the league-leading NOLA Gold on Saturday afternoon. What made Saturday’s victory so impressive were all the odds that the Legion had to overcome. Between the travel, a hostile environment, the hot, windy Louisiana day and a championship caliber opponent, San Diego also had to put the match away without their leading scorer when fly-half Joe Pietersen went down with an injury. Their depth was on display when Tai Enosa, Pietersen’s replacement, punched in the final try of the match to help San Diego seal the victory. With the exception of the Toronto Arrows, the Legion have shown that they can beat anyone anywhere at any given time. They’ve got the bench, the right mindset and have placed themselves firmly in the driver’s seat. Now it’s up to them to finish the mission.
What did you think about this week’s action? What did I miss? I would love to hear from any and all MLR fans as the season moves along. Feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected] with any MLR related topic that might be on your mind. I’ll address any emails in the next week’s Colton’s Corner.
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