AUSTIN, TX — The San Diego Legion made the most of their first-ever rugby match yesterday by earning a 32-24 win over the Austin Elite. Going on the road proved fruitful for the Legion who, despite a mid-match rally from the Elite, put on a four try display to score their first victory of the preseason.
An attritional opening few minutes gave San Diego time to ease into the contest and find their feet. An early attack into Austin’s half saw the Elite pinged for infringement, giving Legion fly-half Tadhg Leader his first opportunity to kick for goal. Leader capitalized on the opportunity, giving San Diego a 3-0 lead.
The Legion extended their lead just a few minutes later thanks to the efforts of hooker, Patrick Blair who crossed over the line for the first try in club history. Leader easily tacked on the conversion to push the score to 10-0 before the tenth minute mark.
Austin battled back before the end of the first-quarter and scored a strong try of their own through captain Mason Pederson. Elite fly-half Timothee Guillimin missed the conversion as the first quarter ended, cutting the visitors’ buffer to five points.
The two sides battled through the opening minutes of the second quarter before the referee found issue with San Diego’s scrummaging technique, reducing the Legion to 14 men for 10 minutes. Despite the yellow card, the boys in red didn’t let themselves be deterred and responded in the 33rd minute with an unconverted try from second-rower Cam Dolan. Leader bounced back from the missed conversion to add to San Diego‘s advantage on the stroke of half time, giving the visitors a comfortable 18-5 lead at the break.
The second half opened with a flurry of action from the home side who, within the first 11 minutes of the half, scored two converted tries. Mason Pederson and Deon Minaar found the try zone for Austin, and Timothee Guillimin converted both times to give the Elite their first lead of the match.
Despite Austin’s rebound, the Legion roared back to life with 20 minutes to go. A 59th minute score from Faitala Talapusi and a 62nd minute try from Cam Dolan pushed the Legion’s lead to 32-19 in the blink of an eye. Austin scored in the 77th minute delivering one final, epic play. However, the final score finished in San Diego’s favor, 32-24.
Season Preview April 7 with a curtain raiser at 5pm between San Diego State University & Cal Poly and a pre-season match against the Houston SaberCats at 7pm!