Seawolves Stand Down San Diego at Starfire Stadium
TUKWILA, WASHINGTON (May 10, 2021) – The Seattle Seawolves faced the San Diego Legion, the oldest rivalry in Major League Rugby history, at Starfire Stadium on Sunday, May 9. An 80-minute performance from the Seawolves, highlighted by outstanding set-piece play, debutant fly half AJ Alatimu’s sound kicking, and the return of Seattle’s notoriously staunch defense, ‘the Seawall’, earned them the match.
- Samoa’s AJ Alatimu and USA’s Ben Landry made their debuting appearances.
- Seattle’s set piece continues to improve and was a key factor in the win at home.
- Wing Ross Neal scored his fifth try of the season, continuing to prove his lethality.
- Seawolves successfully and safely increased capacity with roll out of fully vaccinated sections at Starfire Stadium.
The first try of the match came rather quickly from sharp passing from fly half AJ Alatimu skipped the ball over to outside center Shalom Suniula and onto wing Ross Neal for his fifth try of the season. Alatimu slotted the extra two points from the sideline which were also his first for the Club. 7-0 Seattle at the 4th minute. San Diego missed out on their first scoring opportunity, missing a penalty kick from 40 meters out. Seattle applied offensive pressure with crashing lines and kick-passes, Legion called for offsides and Alatimu capitalized on the error with three more points at the 29th minute. 10-0, Seattle. Phases of stolen possession from both sides kept further points off the board for the last 10 minutes of the half. But a hit deemed late from number eight Riekert Hattingh set up a Legion line out that resulted in a San Diego try in the corner. Kick was no good, 10-5 Seattle at the half.
The first 9 minutes of second-half play ended in an offsides call against Seattle and a converted penalty kick by San Diego. 10-8 Seattle at the 49th minute. San Diego spotted a gap in the defensive line off the kickoff, making a break that fullback Mat Turner was able to slow down with a tackle, but the offloaded pass earned the Legion their second try. Kick was good, 10-15 Legion at the 55th minute. Seattle bounced back after a technical line out saw scrumhalf JP Smith switch the direction of play, moving back against the grain to inside center Kieran Joyce who helped wing Sitiveni Tamaivena exploit the two versus two match-up on the edge. Tamaivena scored his second try of the season. Alatimu hooked the kick after and missed, Seattle tied up the game 15-15 at the 58th minute. Just minutes after, San Diego was called for not releasing inside their own half as Seattle’s offense gained momentum. Alatimu was back on kicking duty and slotted it for the lead, 18-15 Seattle. A calm-and-collected defensive line wedged San Diego backwards and a Legion player obstructed Joyce’s tackling opportunity and landed Seattle another penalty kick. Alatimu added another three crucial points from his boot, 21-15 at the 67th minute. Back-to-back not releasing calls against San Diego as Seattle got over the ball cleanly stalled any further chance for Legion to come back. Final score, 21-15 Seattle Seawolves.
Alatimu 29’, 61’, 67‘
The Seattle Seawolves (2-5) are back on the road in week 9, heading east to take on Old Glory DC (2-4). Kickoff of this week’s MLR Game of the Week is at 9:00 AM PT Sunday, May 16 on CBS Sports Network for viewers inside the United States and The Rugby Network for those outside of the US.
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