Seawolves Edge Raptors in 2019 Home Opener
written by: Colton Strickler
The Glendale Raptors will have to wait a few more months to get their revenge on the Seattle Seawolves.
Seattle’s first test in the defense of the Major League Rugby Championship Shield came on Sunday night at Starfire Stadium in the form of a hungry Glendale squad. That hunger wasn’t enough to knock off the Seawolves (1-0), though, as Seattle used a Brock Staller kick to propel them to a 20-18 victory over a Raptors (0-1) team that gave them all they could handle.
“The boys played hard and for each other tonight,’ Seattle’s Brock Staller said after the match “We kept believing and found a way to win.”
The fourth leg of what is turning out to be one of the first great rivalries in the MLR looked consisted off a little bit of everything. If you were tuning in to see some stout defense, exciting kicking and a hard-fought match between two teams that hate to lose to each other, this was the game for you.
“I wouldn’t say extra weight, but there is a rivalry,” Staller said after the match. “Glendale was one of the more consistent team’s last season. Opening the season against them provides an honest assessment of where we are at.”
The first 20 minutes of the match largely played in-between the 22-meter lines. Glendale fly-half Will Magie got the scoring started in the 16th minute with a penalty goal before Seattle wing and man of the match Brock Staller answered back with a kick of his own to tie the match in the 24th minute.
After each side figured each other out a little bit, the Seawolves’ prop Tim Metcher took the ball on a pick-and-go and plowed his way over a few Raptors for the match’s first try. Staller’s conversion gave the Seawolves a 10-3 lead.
After not being able to capitalize on a few scoring chances throughout the course of the first half, Glendale stole the ball in the 37th minute and pressured the Seawolves into a penalty in their territory. Magie nailed his second kick of the match to cut Seattle’s lead to just four heading into the half.
Glendale wasted little time eliminating Seattle’s lead in the second half. Raptors’ head coach David Williams seemed to have found the formula to his team’s success quickly out of the break, and that success came as a result of playing quickly.
Glendale’s first try of the match came just over three minutes into the second half when fullback Dylan Taikato-Simpson took a pass from scrum-half Shaun Davies deep in Seattle territory and punched it into the try zone. Magie nailed the conversion to give the Raptors a 13-10 lead.
Any chance that Seattle had to catch their breath after Taikato-Simpson’s try was quickly erased when flanker Hanco Germishuys wiggled his way out of a handful of tackles and broke off a return into Seattle territory. The Raptors pushed the pace and sent the ball out to wing John Ryberg who took the ball in for Glendale’s second try. Magie was unable to hit the conversion, but the Raptors extended their lead to eight points.
After logging 10 points early in the match, the Seawolves offense had all but dried up. After a missed drop goal by Seattle fullback Mat Turner, Seattle had to rely on a little bit of magic by Staller to end their scoring drought. Staller received the ball out wide and kicked it over the top of Zach Fenoglio as he closed in to make the tackle. After avoiding Fenoglio, Staller chased down his own kick for the Seawolves’ second try of the match. He nailed his own conversion to cut the Raptors lead to just one point heading into the 60-minute hydration break.
“Honestly I caught the ball and saw space in behind and I went for it,” Staller said. “Thankfully the chip worked out!”
As the match wound down, it became clear that the final result was going to be decided by the ability to capitalize on a small mistake. Unfortunately for the Raptors, that is exactly what happened. An error in their own territory resulted in a Staller penalty kick that gave the Seawolves a 20-18 lead with just under four minutes to play. Magie had attempted to turn the tides with a penalty kick on the Raptors side of the 50-meter line, but his attempt went across the face of the goal and fell just short and Seattle walked away with the victory.
Glendale will travel down to the Crescent City to take on the NOLA Gold (1-0) next Saturday while the Seawolves will travel to San Diego to take on the Legion (0-1).
Colton can be reached at [email protected]
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