Glendale, NOLA, and Houston earn preseason wins
The Major League Rugby preseason came to a close for five teams on Saturday with three matches scattered across the country. Glendale were on the road in New York, Austin were hosting New Orleans at Round Rock, and San Diego was celebrating the return of professional rugby to Torero Stadium against the visiting Houston SaberCats.
NEW YORK ATHLETIC CLUB 22 vs 35 GLENDALE RAPTORS
Travers Island played host to an entertaining fixture between the Raptors and NYAC. The visitors grabbed two quick tries in the opening minutes and never looked back but an incident just before halftime will be cause for concern.
Loosehead prop Luke White was shown a red card and any length of suspension would be a setback for the team. Georgian prop Giorgi Tsverava is on the books with the Merlins and could get the call-up for the season opener against Austin in two weeks.
Despite playing down a man Glendale finished strongly with two tries in the final minutes including one to Will Magie, giving him 15 points on the day. Other scores went to John Ryberg, Nick Johnson, Mika Kruse, and Max Statler. That makes it three consecutive try-scoring games for the 19-year-old Kruse.
AUSTIN ELITE 10 vs 38 NEW ORLEANS GOLD
A close game at halftime had NOLA up by only two points but a purple patch in the second half left their hosts for dead. Four tries in a span of 10 minutes proved the undoing of Austin. Matt Hughston, Jojo Tikoisuva, Tim Maupin, and John Sullivan each found the line with JP Eloff adding the extras on three of them plus one earlier.
Maupin’s effort was a scorching finish from halfway. First half tries for the Gold were scored by Peceli Rinakama and Cam Falcon, with Andrew Suniula and an unidentified forward grabbing singles for Austin.
It’s a big confidence boost for NOLA who head into their match against the SaberCats in Houston with two strong wins behind them. Austin will be disappointed and have no time to waste with the toughest possible challenge lined up for their season opener, the Glendale Raptors at Infinity Park.
SAN DIEGO LEGION 17 vs 33 HOUSTON SABERCATS
The Legion couldn’t get the win they wanted in their first game at Torero Stadium but handed debuts to several newcomers including a surprise appearance from Eagles fullback Mike Te’o who was not part of the original lineup. San Diego led 10-7 at the break thanks to a Cam Dolan try with a conversion from Ben Cima and a late penalty goal via Tadhg Leader.
The second half belonged to Houston, however, with four tries against only one for Legion captain Nate Augspurger. Jake Turnbull, Josua Vici, Justin Allen, Chris Slater, and an unidentified forward touched down for the SaberCats with Sam Windsor good on four conversions.
San Diego will now prepare for a trip north to face the mysterious Seattle Seawolves at Starfire Stadium on April 22. The SaberCats head to their new home of Dyer Stadium to lay in waiting for New Orleans with a score to settle after their draw two weeks ago.