MLR Championship Series Semi-Final Round | First XV
- Loosehead Prop, Rob Brouwer (Toronto Arrows) – When it came to re-establishing the set piece, Brouwer responded quickly to build the set-piece attack for the Arrows going into the second half. His importance around the breakdown could not be overstated. He finished with six tough carries for 26 meters and completed six tackles on defense.
- Hooker, Dylan Fawsitt (Rugby United New York) – “The Butcher” remains a try machine. Directing the Rooster maul, Fawsit crossed the line to score RUNY’s second try of the match and to close out a dominant first half. He finished with seven carries for 28 meters on attack and completed 10 tackles on defense.
- Tighthead Prop, Paddy Ryan (Rugby United New York) – A key component in a scrum that gave the Legion fits, Ryan scored a try off New York’s great driving maul set piece to start the match with a shock. He gained 12 meters on three carries on attack. Ryan was also accurate on defense, completing 13 tackles for the Roosters.
- Left Lock, Mike Sheppard (Toronto Arrows) – Mike Sheppard is the locomotive that pulls the Arrows freight train. Once they settled down and regrouped, Sheppard led the team with his heavy ball carrying in the second half. He scored a try off an intercepted pass and beat a Riekert Hattingh grasp. Sheppard finished with a whopping 21 carries for 131 meters on attack and added six tackles on defense.
- Right Lock, Brad Tucker (Seattle Seawolves) – Brad Tucker proved once again that he is one of the largest motors in Major League Rugby. On attack, he made sure to find contact and make three perfect offloads when identifying the overlap. On attack, he carried the ball nine times for 51 meters. Tucker also tracked down the Arrows ball carriers and completed 18 powerful tackles.
- Blindside Flanker, Samu Manoa (Seattle Seawolves) – Manoa was constantly active around the breakdown by establishing and challenging rucks. He finished with seven carries for 49 meters on attack. Manoa also completed 10 massive tackles, one of which sent Arrows fly-half Sam Malcolm deep into next week.
- Openside Flanker, Matt Hughston (Rugby United New York) – The defensive work rate of Hughston kept the San Diego attack at bay during their match against New York. Hughston completed 21 tackles for the Roosters that put RUNY in a dominant position for most of the day. He also added four carries for 18 meters in traffic.
- No 8., Riekert Hattingh (Seattle Seawolves) – When it came to the aerial attack of the Seawolves game, Hattingh was a key contributor. He went into the air to complete five lineout takes on Sunday evening. He finished with 10 brutal carries for 76 meters against the Arrows and helped corral Toronto’s attack with eight tackles on defense.
- Scrum-half, Nate Augspurger (San Diego Legion) – Augspurger pushed the pace of the San Diego attack by moving fast to the breakdown and distributing the ball. He made seven quick carries for 30 meters. However, Augspurger’s defense has been a key driver for the Legion all season long, and he drove them again on Sunday by completing 13 tackles.
- Fly-half, Joe Pietersen (San Diego Legion – Pietersen scored nine points on a perfect day in the kicking department. He hit all three of his conversions and his lone penalty goal attempt. When JP du Plessis scored the try to even the score, Pietersen nailed the tough-angled kick to push the Legion ahead and secure a berth in the MLR Championship. He cut up the New York defense with 14 carries for 126 meters, one line-break, and two tackle-breaks. He pushed the ball around the pitch with 10 kicks in play for 433 meters to prevent New York from establishing decent field position throughout the match.
- Left Wing, Jeff Hassler (Seattle Seawolves) – The vision of Hassler helped him find his way back to professional rugby, and that same vision also helped him cut right around the Toronto defense as he burst through a gap with a pass from Ben Cima to score a try on Sunday evening. He totaled five carries for 64 meters, a line-break, and six tackles.
- Inside Center, JP du Plessis (San Diego Legion) – Without JP du Plessis, the Legion lose this match. He put San Diego on his back, making 21 carries for 126 meters, a line-break, and one offload. He scored the final try of the match, which gave Joe Pietersen the chance to secure the Legion’s berth in the MLR Championship. On defense, he finished the match with seven tackles.
- Outside Center, Ryan Matyas (San Diego Legion) – Matyas threw his body around to challenge the breakdown on Sunday afternoon. He completed three carries for 19 meters on attack, but the 12 tackles he made on defense helped shut down the New York attack and put the Legion in position to capitalize in the final minutes.
- Right Wing, Brock Staller (Seattle Seawolves) – “The Baller” Staller brought his A-game on Sunday evening, scoring 13 points on two conversions and three penalty goals. On attack, he made six carries for 20 meters. Staller pulled another tool out of his bag, completing 11 tackles on defense.
- Fullback, Gaston Mieres (Toronto Arrows) – Mieres was the second punch in the arsenal for the Arrows as he carved through the Seawolves defense on 11 carries for 116 meters. His try in the 39th minute re-energized the Arrows as they headed into the locker room to refocus for the second half.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT (June 25, 2019) – Major League Rugby (MLR)
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