Colton’s Corner: Week 2
Colton’s Corner will be a weekly feature on five topics from around MLR.
Utah Defeats Austin 17-9
“Look, we talked a little bit about it as coaches and as a team, and if we’re being honest it wasn’t the pretty performance in a lot of ways, but to come on the road in our very first game the MLR for this season, and to be honest our first game for the season because we didn’t have any preseason games. To come away with a win, even though it was messy, was huge for us and very pleasing.” – Utah Warriors head coach Alf Daniels
The Utah Warriors’ wire-to-wire win came by way of some very quality defense, superior set pieces and a handful of mistakes that Austin Elite Rugby made at untimely points in Friday night’s match. The journey to the result isn’t necessarily what matters as long as you win, and that’s probably the way the Warriors felt when Friday’s match was all said and done. They jumped out to an early 7-0 lead and even when their offense slowed down, they never looked back as Austin chipped away at their lead with three penalty goals in the first half. They shut down every chance at a try that Austin had throughout the match, and after being so close so many times, Austin simply wasn’t able to get over the hump. After two tough losses in subsequent weeks, Elite captain Ben Mitchell knows that first win of 2019 is coming soon and is aware of what that will do for his club. “We think we’re really close,” Mitchell said after the match. “We had a really hard preseason. We worked super hard. We are training hard every day during the week. We just think that as soon as we get that first win, that’s going to be a massive momentum changer for us and once we get that first win, we really believe we can get on a good run.”
NOLA Remains Perfect With 40-31 Win Over Glendale
The NOLA Gold look like a completely different team through the first two weeks of the 2019 season. They showed flashes of ability at different points of 2018 but never really proved that they would be able to hold off surging teams and overcome the adversity that would occur throughout the match. While they’ve only played two matches, 2019 seems to be a completely different story and all you’d have to do is look at Saturday’s match over Glendale. Using a two-try performance from outside center Taylor Howden, the Gold was able to jump on the Raptors early, hold off a handful of comeback flurries and eventually slam the door on 2018’s runner-ups. Throughout both of their wins, it’s apparent that NOLA is having fun, and that alone could be the reason that they find themselves at the top of the table through the first two weeks of the season. Glendale in the other hand finds themselves in unfamiliar territory through two weeks. Having lost two tough matches, the Raptors currently sit in eighth place with just two points. Glendale is too deep and too talented to stay down for too long. You’d have to think that they will get things sorted out during their bye week and be back with a vengeance when they take on Austin on February 17.
San Diego Holds Off Seattle 17-13
The San Diego Legion handed the Seattle Seawolves their first loss of their title defense in what was an absolute dogfight. San Diego withstood the pouring rain, pooling mud and a scrappy Seattle side to come out with a hard-earned victory. This match had to have tasted a little sweeter to the Legion considering that the difference in the result ultimately came down to a penalty try when Seattle collapsed the scrum in the first half, which is exactly how the Seawolves knocked off the Legion a year before. Taking down Seattle was exactly what the Legion needed after suffering a tough loss to Rugby United New York a week earlier.
Thank Goodness for Exciting, Competitive Matches
After watching this year’s closing professional (American) football match, I think everyone can appreciate how close and exciting the MLR matches have been through the first two weeks of the season. I know I sure am. I enjoy turning on the television and opening up Facebook to watch a match knowing that I am going to settle in to watch a competitive match that will produce an unpredictable result over the course of the next two hours. Whether your team has won or lost over the last few weeks, teams all across the league are playing exciting rugby and for that I am thankful.
A Look Ahead
I think Week 3 will be the best of the young season for a few reasons. I am excited to see how Seattle bounces back from a hard-fought loss when they head down to New Orleans. In the same match, I am interested to see how New Orleans stacks up against the champions from a season before. If New Orleans can knock off the Seawolves to start the season 3-0, they could have the making of a special season on their hands. I am also interested to see Sam Windsor, the league’s leading scorer, and the Houston SaberCats head over to San Diego to take on a San Diego Legion team on national television that has already proven that they are going to be tough to beat. On top of all that I think everyone is looking forward to seeing more of the Toronto Arrows while simultaneously waiting to see what Austin Elite Rugby looks like once they put together a full match.
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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