Colton’s Corner: Week 7
Colton’s Corner will be a weekly feature on five topics from around MLR.
Rugby United New York Rolls Utah Warriors 47-21 in the Snow
Rugby United New York continued their strong season with a big 47-21 win over the Utah Warriors on Friday night. This was a match that essentially came down to turnovers. RUNY hung onto the ball and Utah couldn’t, and that was represented in the 17 turnovers that the Warriors conceded to RUNY’s five. On top of the lopsided turnover margin, RUNY simply didn’t fly all the way to Salt Lake City to mess around. They had four different players score tries on Friday night, with Connor Wallace-Sims and Mark O’Keefe each scoring two tries apiece. Fifth place RUNY will take their 4-1 record and their 18 points in the league table back to New York for their first ever home match against the Toronto Arrows in Week 8. After picking up a win in their first week of the season, Utah’s had a rough four-game stretch. The Warriors dropped a tough one against the San Diego Legion, gave up a lead at home to draw with the Glendale Raptors and lost to the NOLA Gold on a walk-off try in the snow prior to this match against RUNY. Utah’s had a little trouble finishing matches, and only have seven points on the season as a result. They’ll have a bye week to figure some things out before traveling to Houston to take on the SaberCats in a match that could potentially kickstart the winner’s season.
Glendale Raptors Defeat Austin Elite Rugby 38-19
Here come the Glendale Raptors. After an 0-2 start to the season, the Raptors find themselves in a playoff spot for the first time following their 38-19 win over Austin Elite Rugby. Their reemergence comes right at the conclusion of the Americas Rugby Championship which means they, along with the other teams in the MLR, will be back at full strength with 10 games to play. We already know, based on last season, how dangerous the Raptors can be if they get a full head of steam. Their two-game win streak could be the beginning of a push for another crack at the Championship Shield. Austin, on the other hand, is quickly running out of time to right the ship. The score might not show it, but they really did play Glendale tough on Saturday night and have proven that they have the talent to compete. They just need to put an entire match together, and they need to do so in a hurry.
Houston SaberCats Hang Tough, Fall 27-14 to the Seattle Seawolves
There were several moments during the Seawolves victory over the SaberCats on Sunday evening that I believed we were going to witness the biggest upset of the season. Aside from a penalty kick and a conversion in the first half, the SaberCats made the absolute most of out their opportunities and did everything in their power to keep the Seawolves out of their territory. The stats reflected exactly that. Houston dominated the territory battle but ultimately couldn’t hold off a relentless Seawolves team in the last 10 minutes of the match. If it makes SaberCats’ supporters feel any better, not many teams can knock off the Seawolves at Starfire. If Sunday’s match revealed anything, it’s that the Houston SaberCats still have plenty of fight left in them with 11 matches left to play.
Toronto Stuns San Diego 27-20
“He’s got the x-factor. He’s got a special kind of talent which is rare. He’s such a finisher and his confidence keeps growing and growing. He’s only 19 years old. He’s been playing fantastic and we’re just so proud of him. When he makes a mistake he just responds well, he doesn’t put his head down, he just keeps going which is perfect.” – Toronto Arrows Director of Rugby Chris Silverthorn on wing Avery Oitomen
What a game the Week 7 finale turned out to be. After a 22-0 shutout in the snow and bitter cold just a week earlier, it looked as if Toronto was about to concede another loss when they went down 20-3 to the San Diego Legion early in the second half of Sunday night’s match. Then Avery Oitomen happened. The 19-year-old home run hitter breathed life into the Arrows early in the second half when he sliced through the stout San Diego defense and punched in Toronto’s first try of the match. “The future of Canadian rugby,” as Dan Power dubbed him during the CBS Sports broadcast, followed that try up with another one only a handful of minutes later. His two-try performance leaves him with five tries through six matches and ties him with Glendale Raptors’ wing John Ryberg for most in the MLR. Toronto’s massive win gives them a tremendous amount of momentum heading into their next match against Rugby United New York, a match in which they will potentially return seven starters.
New Kids on the Block
I had the chance to catch up with Toronto Arrows Director of Rugby Chris Silverthorn on the phone after their comeback victory over the San Diego Legion and asked him if there was any extra juice ahead of their match against New York considering it will be the first time two expansion teams meet in the MLR.
“Absolutely,” Silverthorn said. “It’s gone back. When we were with the Blues, we used to play the New York club that makes up this team and we always had a great rivalry. We are looking forward to it. New York is a top, top team and we are really looking forward to the challenge of playing them. It’s going to be a hard match.”
A little extra motivation should only make this match that much better as the two teams are separated by just two points in the league table. An Arrows win would knock RUNY out of the final playoff spot. Friday night should be a fun one to watch.
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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One of the best matches of Major League Rugby’s second season ended
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