Friday, June 7, 2019

Major League Rugby - Semifinals: Sunday

MLR Playoffs: West versus East
2019 Major League Rugby race has run and it’s come down to this: a brace of clubs from the Pacific Coast against them on the way far side of the Mississippi for the right to contest this season’s championship trophy. The knockouts, or as they are, the semifinals, will take place on the Sunday in the port cities at the extremities of the contiguous American Western Seaboard. San Diego Legion host New York United in the first fixture at 3pm MST in Torero Stadium, and Seattle SeaWolves will take on Toronto Arrows in the fixture to follow at 7pm MST at Starfire Sports Arena.

SDL v NYU: 3pm MST, Sunday
New York are the only XV to have lost their last match, dropping a 20-22 decision to Toronto on the trot in the True North. Overall, United have lost four road games, their initial unhappiness coming at the hands of their Southern Californian hosts in the middle of April by 10 points.
San Diego, boasting the best record in the league, have lost only thrice all year though two of those defeats have come at home against semifinalists, NYU (in January to open their season) and then Toronto first weekend in May. 
Of significance: number 10 for United in the January match, Chris Mattina, has been supplanted by Ireland native, Cathal Marsh. The current NYU standoff will orchestrate the travelers maneuvers against one of the very best string-pullers operating today, Joe Pietersen of the Legion; the Cheetahs and Stormers product has quietly become the calculating mastermind of the dominant side in the league.
United have two powerful points-producers in former Glendale Raptors packmates, Dylan Fawsitt and John Quill, but must function at top end from numbers 1-through-23  should they wish for a happy ending to this day’s efforts. 
San Diego, for their measure, have one of the top closers in the game today in USA Eagles Mike Te’o who will exploit the smallest of creases to explosive effect.
Gonna be a doozy in SoCal!

SS v TA: 7pm MST, Sunday
Brock Staller is not only the Seattle numbers man, he’s best in the league at it by nearly 50 cumulative points. The SeaWolves wing will absolutely crucify an opponent with his accuracy from the tee should errors be committed within 50+ meters of goal. One might call the Surrey (Canada) flyer automatic, but he’s better than that.
Rising former Manawatu standout, Sam Malcolm, provides distribution and a bit of devilment to his Toronto backline; cool as you like, the deft and capable flyhalf sealed Toronto’s flashy finish and ensured Arrows extra time with a dropped goal near death in the match last weekend.
Today’s travelers have not tasted defeat in nearly two months and that fare will not sit well in the tummy today; Seattle's last loss came at the hands of the Toronto XV. The cold dish of revenge for Seattle or more heat from the currently molten Canadian Express that is the Toronto Arrows? Delicious, this cuisine, in any case.
Battle lines drawn in the Great Northwest!


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