WIN OVER AUSTIN ELITE SECURES SAN DIEGO LEGION A SPOT IN THE MLR CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
The San Diego Legion clinched a spot in the Major League Rugby Championship Series yesterday with a fantastic win over the Austin Elite Rugby. The large Father’s Day crowd (nearly 3,000 people in attendance) at Torero Stadium pushed the Legion to a 3-try performance that made up for San Diego‘s defeat in Austin just a few weeks ago.
San Diego Legion dominated possession in the match from the very beginning, keeping the ball through several offensive phases per possession and forcing Austin to commit turnovers early and often. Austin‘s defense gave up a penalty deep in their own half just four minutes into the match, allowing San Diego fly-half Tadhg Leader to kick the first penalty of the match and give the Legion a 3-0 lead. Austin did well to tie it up two minutes later; however, San Diego stayed on the offensive and scored the match‘s opening try in the 16:00 minute thanks to a beautiful driving maul. Pat Blair scored the try and Leader converted to push the score to 10-3. Leader and the San Diego driving maul continued to push San Diego‘s lead before the half, Leader slotting his second penalty in the 24:00 minute before the driving maul scored the second powerful try of the match as the referee blew the halftime whistle. San Diego Legion went into the halftime break ahead, 18-3.
“We were very happy with our performance in the first half, especially our accuracy in retaining the ball and putting points on the board early,” said San Diego Legion center, Anthony Salaber after the match. “We went into halftime knowing we had to play even better in the second half to come away with a victory.“
The second half started very similar to how the first ended, with San Diego giving Austin‘s defense a world of problems. Austin was able to clawback a counter-attack try in the 47:00 minute, and San Diego immediately returned to retaining possession. At the hydration break at the 60:00 minute, Leader had capitalized on two Austin mistakes with successful penalty goals, stretching the score to 24-10. The Austin Elite started to make a come back in the final 20 minutes, securing their first strings of long possession in the match and putting San Diego‘s defense in hot water for the better part of 13 minutes. A 72nd-minute drive from the Texans closed the gap to just seven points and the match felt to be turning in their favor.
Thankfully, a scintillating run from San Diego‘s Ryan Matyas electrified the San Diego crowd and all but secured the match for the Legion. By the time the final whistle blew, San Diego Legion had put in a well-rounded performance and had secured a spot in the MLR Championship Series! Nick Boyer‘s outstanding performance from scrum-half earned him a well-deserved man of the match award.
“By the time Ryan scored the try late in the game, we were under a bit of pressure,” explained Legion fullback Conor Kearns, “The energy of the crowd rose just through the final minutes of the match and were thrilled to play in front of them.”
San Diego Legion will be back for their final home match of the MLR regular season next Saturday at 7:30 PM PT at Torero Stadium. A win for San Diego would have them finishing at third place in the regular season and a better seeding in the MLR Playoffs. Rally your friends and family, make sure to come out and support the squad at home. Tickets are available online now at sdlegion.com/tickets.