Seawolves Outlast Warriors in Salt Lake City, Earn Critical Conference Win
Photo credit: George Manu
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (April 10, 2021) – The Seattle Seawolves were back on the road in week 4 of Major League Rugby after a BYE week in round 3. With a few key players returning from injury and multiple changes to the roster, Seattle was prepared to shake things up after a slow start to the season. A courageous 80 minutes and complete team effort earned the Seawolves a Western Conference win over the Utah Warriors, 20-15.
Utah started the game with a penalty on the kickoff, as a Warrior player made contact with wing JP Smith while in the air fielding the high ball. After
losing their own line out, Seattle caught an early break as Utah kicked the ball out of the back of the try zone and awarding the Seawolves a midfield
scrum. Back and forth play and penalties against both sides ate up minutes on the clock, but hooker James Malcolm drew a penalty that allowed Seawolves
to march up field for a line. The visitors kept possession and with a successful set piece play, center George Barton set up flanker Andrew Durutalo
for a line break that turned into a try for the experienced loose forward. Flyhalf Kieran Joyce added two more points with the conversion kick after,
7-0 Seattle at the 14th minute.
A few more penalties stalled further offensive progress for the Seawolves and led to a yellow card to prop Djustuce Sears-Duru. Playing a player down for
10 minutes, Utah capitalized on their overload and managed to score under the posts as their forwards muscled over for a try. No kick needed, 7-7 tie
game at the 20th minute. The Seawolves’ tempo of play was high, but a handling error and poor kick decision let Utah back into the game. Warriors
kicked the ball away and out of the territory, but it was fielded well by Seattle as a few strong carries opened up a chance for wing Sitiveni Tamaivena
to cut back inside and dodge multiple Warrior defenders, breaking tackles to dive over for a try. Joyce hit the uprights, missing the extra points.
12-7, Seattle at the 33rd minute.
Knocking on the Utah try line before the play was killed by a Warrior intentionally knocking the ball on and earning a yellow card. After kicking out of
their territory, Utah was back on defense as the Seattle backs strung together passes. A bobbled pass ended up on the ground and Smith went to collect,
ending up out of bounds and hit late by a Warrior player. Smith sustained an injury and was removed from the field of play, replaced by wing Aaron
Matthews. Play resumed but no more points were scored before halftime. 12-7 Seattle at halftime.
Seattle kicked off to Utah to start the second half and collected the ball shortly after. An offsides call allowed Joyce to attempt a shot at goal for
three points. He managed to hit the posts again, keeping the ball in play and just as a Warriors player collected the kick, they were met by Tamaivena
with a strong tackle and Seattle stole the ball. Prop Tim Metcher was called for a penalty in the breakdown. Utah kicked the ball up field but after
the Seattle line out, they were penalized for not rolling away and Joyce made another penalty kick attempt. His kick split the posts and Seawolves
extended their lead, 15-7 Seattle at the 47th minute. Seattle ended up on defense and pressure from veteran fullback Mat Turner forced a Utah forward
pass. Attempting to relieve pressure, Joyce booted the ball downfield, but the ball rolled just out the back of the try zone. The ball got brought
back to the place of the kick for a Utah scrum. Seattle had a strong push in the scrum, but Utah was able to quickly move the ball and attack space
to score in the corner. Kick no good with the harsh angle, 15-12 Seattle at the 57th minute.
Heading into the final quarter of the match, Seattle’s fatigue started to show in the penalty count and Utah was able to capitalize three points from a
penalty kick, tying the game 15-15 at the 64th minute. Utah tried to pin Seattle back with a kickoff the restart, but it rolled out the back of
the try zone, gifting Seattle a scrum inside Utah’s half. Replacement center Setareki Tuilevuka had a strong first touch, carrying hard and setting
up attacking momentum that Seattle used to score their third try of the night. Joyce wound up a 10-meter pass to a patiently waiting wing Aaron Matthews
who backed himself to score in the corner. Joyce hit the uprights of the third time of the match, missing the kick. 20-15, Seattle. Closing in on the
last minutes, Utah made a final push towards Seattle’s try zone. Back-to-back penalties committed by Seattle turned into a yellow card for flanker
Eric Duechle and forced them to play a player down for the rest of the match. But the Seawolves made a final stand, as the Warriors had a miscue with
their line out and allowed Seattle to recollect the ball. Penalty to Utah, and scrumhalf Deveraux Ferris tapped the ball and kicked into touch to end
the game. Final score was 20-15 Seattle.
Now 1-2, Seattle will look to ride their momentum into their fourth away match in Atlanta, Georgia in week 5. The Seawolves will take on the Toronto Arrows at their temporary location. It will be Seattle’s first East Conference opponent of the 2021 season, kicking off Saturday, April 17 at 7:30 AM PT on ROOT SPORTS and The Rugby Network.
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From the moment Tavite Lopeti was drafted by the Seattle Seawolves third
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