Round 16 | First XV, Player of the Week
- Loosehead Prop, Djustice Sears-Duru (Seattle Seawolves) – Djustice stabilized the Seawolves set-piece attack early, contributing with 22 grueling meters on eight carries. However, it was on defense where Djustice shined, completing a second-best 19 total tackles that helped hold up the Seawall upset on the shores of Coney Island
- Hooker, Dylan Fawsitt (Rugby United New York) – The Butcher’s two late tries pulled RUNY within striking distance of the Seawolves, with the hooker leading a spirited rally that landed just short. Fawsitt’s first try occurred after he drove a maul over the line, while on the second Fawsitt broke for the edge around teammate Luke Hume. Fawsitt finished on attack with 13 carries for 39 meters, one tackle-break, one offload, and completed 10 tackles on defense.
- Tighthead Prop, Morgan Mitchell (Toronto Arrows) – When it mattered most, the stout and skillful Mitchell imposed his will, forcing his opposite on the Warriors’ Huluholo Moungaloa to commit two scrum penalties in a close game. Earlier in the match, some hard-fought phase play ended with a Mitchell burst through the line to score a try, evening the score. On attack, he rumbled for 30 meters on seven carries and one offload. He contributed 10 tackles on defense to limit the Warriors offense
- Left Lock, Mike Sheppard (Toronto Arrows) – At his best, Shep obliterates defenders in his way. This week, the star did just that, rushing for 76 meters, one line-break, and two tackle-breaks. Not to be overlooked, his defensive work rate continues to ascend as he completed 19 tackles against the Warriors, a team-high on the day.
- Right Lock, Keni Nasoqeque (San Diego Legion) – Keni, the great backrower from Belmont Shore, has rapidly evolved into a dynamic and strong lock in MLR. Keni compliments his overpowering strength with excellent open field play, this week taking the ball for 32 meters and one offload on nine carries. His incredible defensive activity resulted in 19 tackles and numerous challenges at the breakdown.
- Blindside Flanker, Psalm Wooching (San Diego Legion) – Psalm’s play style works quite well within the rapid attacking system of the Legion that focuses on ball movement. On attack, he totaled 15 carries for 90 meters and two offloads. In the air, he executed two lineout takes for San Diego’s set piece. On defense, his ball-hawking prowess led to 16 tackles.
- Openside Flanker, Nakai Penny (Seattle Seawolves) – Nakai’s repeated attacks on the breakdown chipped away the RUNY defensive might. He pushed forward the Seattle attack with 10 carries for 67 meters and on defense he proved tenacious with 18 tackles, driving up his defensive totals since settling into the starting role following Vili Tolutau’s injury.
- No 8., Riekert Hattingh (Seattle Seawolves) – Riekert scored the second try of the match off a tremendous burst to place RUNY in an early deficit. On attack, his massive legs churned for 99 meters on 12 carries, one line-break, and two tackle-breaks. On defense, he led all of Major League Rugby in Week 16 with an astounding 26 total tackles.
- Scrum-half, Juan-Philip Smith (Seattle Seawolves) – Juan-Philip gets it done both out of the scrum and at the breakdown, ending the first half with a sweet try from Shalom Suniula. On attack, he totaled three carries for 30 meters and one offload. On defense, he added seven tackles
- Fly-half, Scott Gale (New Orleans Gold) – A return to fitness for Scott Gale is just what the Gold needed in their matchup against the Legion. The creative fly-half used his kicking game to force San Diego into tough positions, putting 11 kicks in play for 377 meters. On attack, he proved the careful distributor with six carries for 34 meters, one tackle-break, two offloads, and completed two conversions to score four points.
- Left Wing, Nick Feakes (New Orleans Gold) – Some play styles are so unique they become synonymous with one player, and Nick Feakes is creeping into that category. Nick executed like his fly-half Gale, punting eight kicks for 263 meters, both putting San Diego in bad field position and also creating more scoring opportunities for the likes of Blewett. On attack, he gained 19 meters on three carries. Defensively, he hauled down numerous ball runners with 18 much-needed tackles.
- Inside Center, Will Leonard (Rugby United New York) – Early in the second half, Will tracked teammate Cathal Marsh’s cross-kick to the corner, gained possession and put it over the line for a beautiful try, kickstarting New York’s comeback. On attack, he totaled 15 carries for 93 meters and a one tackle break. On defense, he contributed seven tackles.
- Outside Center, Tristan Blewett (New Orleans Gold) – You can always find Tristan in the right spot. The blisterin’ Blewett scored two tries against the league-leading Legion, the first off a Cam Dolan assist, and the second half when he scooped up a booming Nick Feakes kick. He carved up the San Diego defense on seven carries for 120 meters, two line breaks, one tackle break. On defense, he helped contain the creative San Diego attack with 11 tackles.
- Right Wing, Jeremy Misailegalu (Utah Warriors) – The Missile has contributed heavily to the Warriors’ late-season fight. He snagged the opportunity to score a try following an Arrows handling error and snuck through their line going full speed, which put momentum in the Warriors favor early. He’s filled the stat sheet with 13 carries for 116 meters, one line-break, and two tackle-breaks. On defense, he finished with four tackles.
- Fullback, Mat Turner (Seattle Seawolves) – Mat Turner, the old wily vet, cut through the New York defense with top-end speed reminiscent of his international days, seeing nothing but daylight on his two early tries that set up the bonus point victory for the Seawolves. Mat’s attacking totals were nine carries for 160 meters, one line-break, one tackle-break, and three offloads.
Player of the Week: Fullback, Mat Turner (Seattle Seawolves) – Mat Turner is a world class player. He proved that on Saturday, dismantling the RUNY defense in a table-turning victory. His awareness of his teammates is sublime, and he can absorb contact better than most and pass or offload at will.
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