Round 11 | First XV, Player of the Week
- Loosehead Prop, Franco Van Den Berg (Utah Warriors) – Franco’s powerful carrying on the edge rallied his team early on Friday night as he scored Utah’s first try. With 6 carries for 52 meters coming off phase-play to punish the Seawolves, Van Den Berg aided Utah in their, arguably, best game of the season. On defense, the prop completed 10 tackles.
- Hooker, Stephan Coetzee (Seattle Seawolves) – When attempting to blow through a wall, Coetzee is your man. With his five bruising carries for 17 meters, he did just that, eventually punching a hole into the in-goal area for his own try in the 57th minute. On defense, Coetzee went to work by completing 13 hard tackles.
- Tighthead Prop, Paddy Ryan (San Diego Legion) – Death, Taxes, and Paddy Ryan. The Legion Tighthead did it again, this time to the Elite, forcing Austin into conceding three scrum penalties. In the loose he gained 28 meters from four carries, carrying multiple would-be tacklers each time. On defense, Ryan attacked rucks and drug down ball carriers with his 11 tackles made.
- Left Lock, Mike Sheppard (Toronto Arrows) – Mike is a lunch pail kind-of-guy; he always goes to work. With his nine powerful carries, he gained 50 meters to punish the Gold defense. On defense, Sheppard completed 15 punishing tackles.
- Right Lock, Brad Tucker (Seattle Seawolves) – Brad Tucker has been a man on a mission through the middle part of the season. He attacked the Warriors with ferocity by carrying the ball 13 times for 85 meters and had one line-break, a tackle-break and three offloads in traffic. The lock scored two tries by bursting through the Utah defensive line and also had a try-assist with a key pass to Sequoyah Burke-Combs. On defense, he was a monster, blowing up the breakdown and catching almost every Utah ball carrier. Tucker amassed an astonishing 24 tackles on the evening.
- Blindside Flanker, Psalm Wooching (San Diego Legion) – Psalm was everywhere. He surged to the breakdown when San Diego was on attack and reacted quickly when the Legion defended, causing multiple disruptions for Marcelo Torrealba. His running-lines have evolved, running perfectly in support of Jordan Manihera to avoid a tackle and score a try in the process. He made 70 meters from nine carries, one tackle-break and had three offloads. On defense, he totaled nine tackles.
- Openside Flanker, Lance Williams (Utah Warriors) – Lance Williams is a workhorse for the Warriors. He can be dynamic on offense, or he can pummel the opponent on defense. On Friday night, he went to work with 15 hammering carries to gain 77 meters, and had one line-break, one tackle-break, and completed two offloads. On defense, he helped contain the Seawolves attack with 14 tackles completed. In the air he helped a suffering aerial attack by completing two successful lineout takes.
- No 8., Lucas Rumball (Toronto Arrows) – As a leader with the Arrows and Canada, Lucas slotted into No. 8. seamlessly, taking the ball 14 times to gain 73 meters, and had one tackle-break and completed multiple offloads. Where he went to work most was on defense leading not only the Arrows, but the League with 26 tackles completed in Week 11.
- Scrum-half, Nate Augspurger (San Diego Legion) – The revival of Nate Augspurger, the scrumhalf, has been beautiful to watch. His quick service out of the breakdown pushed the rapid tempo for the Legion. He scored a try to close the first half by squishing through the Austin line. A well-rounded talent, Augspurger contributed 10 tackles, kicked for 159 meters, and carried for 33 meters.
- Fly-half, Sam Windsor (Houston SaberCats) – On Saturday night, Sam engined the SaberCats attack to their quick 32 point onslaught. By the final whistle, Windsor accounted for 15 points with a try, two penalties, and two conversions. On defense, he added 13 tackles. He completed six kicks for 217 meters, which led to the SaberCats’ penalty tries.
- Left Wing, Ryan Matyas (San Diego Legion) – When you need to swing the match, having Ryan in your defensive backfield ready to snatch a poor kick is always an option! Matyas grabbed a short clearance kick from Austin and waltzed into the goal area to score a try — almost unbeknownst to the Elite. Matyas’s score altered the match for the Legion. Matyas gained 109 meters and forced two line-breaks. On defense, Matyas completed five tackles.
- Inside Center, Tim O’Malley (Utah Warriors) – O’Malley and Gannon Moore form one of the league’s top playmaking tandems. O’Malley complements Moore’s powerful running style with a soft passing touch. Against the Seawolves, O’Malley totaled 16 points from a try, one penalty, and four conversions. He carried the ball for 113 meters, with one line-break and two offloads. On defense, he proved stout in the midfield by completing eight tackles for the Utah Warriors.
- Outside Center, Tristan Blewett (New Orleans Gold) – Tristan’s vision is top class, and is coupled with a great pair of hands. Early in the first half, Blewett surged through the line to intercept a pass and score a try, giving the Gold a 19-7 lead over the Arrows. Much like every week, Blewett danced through the opposing defense for 126 meters on 11 carries and one tackle-break. On defense, Blewett completed five tackles.
- Right Wing, John Ryberg (Glendale Raptors) – The Mutant came alive late in the first half to shred the SaberCats defense for two tries in rapid succession, lifting the desperate Raptors as they entered the break down 32-14, but with positive momentum. His third try in the 75th minute completed his side’s rally, much to the delight of the elated home crowd. Due to Ryberg’s heroics, the Raptors rose to second in the standings.
- Fullback, Mat Turner (Seattle Seawolves) – When the Seawolves needed space created, Mat did that with the ball in hand. Turner scored Seattle’s final try with amazing vision in the 76th minute. A dynamic runner, Mat carried the ball nine times for 190 meters, and one line-break. He contributed to the possession game by adding two booming clearance kicks for 107 meters.
Player of the Week: Right Wing, John Ryberg (Glendale Raptors) – Ryberg’s consistent production over the course of this, and last season, makes him one of the best wingers in Major League Rugby. Through the first eight matches, The Mutant has averaged 112 meters per match. In Week 11, Ryberg exceeded his averages with timely production. He sliced through the SaberCats defense for 161 meters on seven carries, and scored three tries, including the go-ahead score capping off the Raptors record-breaking comeback.
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