Legion Use Offensive Explosion to Thump Elite
Sunday night’s Week 11 matchup between the San Diego Legion and Austin Elite Rugby looked awfully similar to the first time the two sides met back in February.
That match resulted in a 45-17 Legion (6-2-1) victory. The fact that Sunday night’s matchup turned out to be eerily similar is a good thing for the Legion, who used a seven-try performance to again hand 45 points on the Elite (0-10) in what turned out to be a 45-15 victory.
It looked good for Austin at the beginning of the match as the Elite used a penalty goal from inside center Andres Vilaseca to take a 3-0 lead in the third minute of the match. Unfortunately for Austin, the Legion made it extremely tough to even get close enough to have additional shots at points. The Legion played 63 percent of the match in Austin’s half, and that resulted in a flurry of tries.
“We were very efficient in the first half,” San Diego head coach Rob Hoadley said after the match. “We took control of field position and possession by getting our basics right. The forwards set a great platform at the set piece.”
Austin led in the match for five minutes, but San Diego opened up the scoring in the 8th minute when the Legion was able to capitalize on a turnover deep in Austin territory. Wing Savenaca Totovosau took a pass from eight-man Jordan Manihera in for a try to put the Legion up 5-3 and they never looked back.
San Diego struck for the second try of the match just eight minutes later when they again had Austin pinned down deep in their own territory. Scrum-half Marcelo Torrealba attempted a box kick to give the Elite a little bit of room to breathe, but Legion wind Ryan Matyas had other plans. He caught the ball on the full and flew down the far touchline and in for the try. Fly-half Joe Pietersen added the conversion to put the Legion up 12-3 heading into the 20-minute hydration mark.
The Legion kept their foot on the gas coming out of the break. San Diego again placed pressure on Austin deep in their own territory and this time it resulted in a try when Mike Te’o threw a dummy and took the ball in for a try to put the Legion up 17-3.
After 17 unanswered Legion points, Austin attempted to stop the bleeding with a try of their own when prop LaRome White took a pass from Torrealba into the in-goal. Vilaseca added the conversion to cut the Legion’s lead to just seven, but Austin wouldn’t get any closer.
The Legion picked up the pace and answered back with a try of their own just five minutes later when scrum-half Nate Augspurger took a pick-and-go and wiggled his way past a handful of Austin defenders to score San Diego’s fourth try of the match. Pietersen’s conversion gave the Legion a 24-10 lead heading into the half.
Unfortunately for the Elite, the second half didn’t render much of a difference.
San Diego got the scoring started in the 45th minute when inside-center JP du Plessis broke the tackles of three Austin defenders on his way in for the try. The Legion followed that try up with a try from Psalm Wooching and another Pietersen conversion to take a 38-10 lead heading into the 60-minute hydration break.
Austin kept fighting and produced one more try before the final whistle when Maikeli Mudu Naromaitoga rumbled his way into the in-goal. Vilaseca added the conversion to cut the deficit to 23, but the Legion kept coming and put their stamp on the match when Nick Boyer snuck in for one more try before it was all said and done.
“Happy to see the backs score 6 tries on the night,” Hoadley said of his team’s performance. “We stretched the Austin defense and looked threatening across the field.”
The Legion picked up an extremely valuable five points in the victory to remain in fifth place in the league table. Their 31 points leave them just one behind the Seattle Seawolves for the fourth and final playoff spot. Austin remains in ninth place with four points.
Austin will look to pick up their first win on when they travel to take on the Toronto Arrows on Sunday, April 14 while San Diego will travel to take on RUNY on Sunday in a match that will carry massive standings implications.
“The table is so congested we are just focused on doing our job,” Hoadley said of his team’s next test at RUNY. “It really doesn’t matter who we are playing, we just have to find our best performance each week to be successful.”
San Diego Legion
Tries: Savenaca Totovosau, Ryan Matyas, Mike Te’o, Nate Augspurger, JP du Plessis, Psalm Wooching, Nick Boyer
Conversions: Joe Pietersen (4/6), Tai Enosa (1/1)
Penalty Goals: N/A
Austin Elite Rugby
Tries: LaRome White, Maikeli Mudu Naromaitoga
Conversions: Andres Vilaseca (1/2)
Penalty Goals: Andres Vilaseca (1/1)
Colton can be reached at [email protected]
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