07 Jun Legion Host RUNY to Kick Off MLR Championship Series
MATCH PREVIEW: LEGION HOST RUGBY UNITED NY IN SEMI-FINALS
SAN DIEGO, CA – After becoming to the first team in the 2019 Major League Rugby season to clinch a spot in the MLR Championship Series, the first-place San Diego Legion will also, be the team to get the playoffs rolling when they host the fourth-place Rugby United New York at Torero Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday afternoon’s match will mark the third time that the Legion and RUNY will have played this season and will be the second time that the match will take place at Torero Stadium. The semi-final will serve as the rubber match between the two sides, as both the Legion and the Roosters won their away matches the previous times the two sides played. If the Legion want to punch their ticket to the MLR Championship, they’ll have to defend their home turf.
The second meeting between the two teams took place in Brooklyn back on April 14 saw the Legion emerge with a 29-19 victory. The match was the third of the Legion’s five-match win streak that began on March 31 and lasted until May 5. San Diego received a big boost from lock Paddy Ryan to help secure the victory. Ryan carried the ball 11 times for 77 meters and a try while also making all 14 of his tackles in the match.
Just as they did the first two times these two sides met, the Legion will need big games out of Ryan and Pietersen on Sunday afternoon. Along with Ryan, the dominant Legion forward pack will get big boosts from Lou Stanfill, who had a team-high 16 tackles in the Legion’s victory over RUNY, along with Josh Furno, Jordan Manihera, and Jasa Veremalua, who had strong performances in the Week 19 win over NOLA. They will have their hands full with a big very solid RUNY forward pack that features the likes of John Quill and Dylan Fawsitt. Fawsitt finished the regular season with 12 tries, the second most in the MLR.
In the backline, Pietersen will take the pitch with JP du Plessis, who, along with Manihera, led the team with 19 tackles in last week’s win over the Gold, veteran scrum-half Nate Augspurger, and Ryan Matyas. They will be tasked with helping slow down RUNY wing Connor Wallace-Sims, whose eight regular-season tries placed him in the top five try-scorers in the MLR this season.
One player that will not be in the lineup for the Legion on Sunday is fullback Mike Te’o, who was injured in the second half of the Week 19 victory over NOLA. Te’o finished the regular season with 91 carries for 1,036 meters gained and eight tries while also making 57 tackles. While he leaves a big hole to fill in the back three, the Legion have continually proved that they have the depth to take care of their business.
Sunday’s match will also feature the top two defensive teams in the MLR. The Legion finished the regular season only conceding 296 points while RUNY finished right behind them conceding just 320 points.
The match, which will kick off at 2 PM PT on Sunday, will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network and will serve as the first semi-final match of the day. Tickets can be purchased here.
Watch the full re-play of the April 14th game.