It took 5 second-half tries for the Seattle Seawolves to secure the win, as the defending champions were sluggish at the start. Seattle needed to find their way after a physical home loss to San Diego Legion less than a week prior.
The Seawolves looked to bounce back and regain confidence against the Warriors as Brock Staller got the scoring underway early for the Seawolves with a penalty kick. Utah’s Tim O’Malley answered quickly with a penalty kick of his own in the windy conditions.
Seattle capitalized on physical play and a penalty deep into Utah territory. The Seawolves are known for their mauling capabilities and were again successful, as Staller would record his team high 4thtry on a pass out wide were the MLR points leader walked in untouched for the try. Staller added his own conversion and the Seawolves took the lead back 10-3 (10th minute).
Utah would not go quietly, as the Warriors tested Seattle’s patented Seawall until it broke. A streaking loosehead prop created his own hole and rumbled in for a try with O’Malley adding the conversion for the tying score (17th minute).
Utah continued their momentum as Gannon Moore received a pass on the wing and sprinted from his own end and going 60 meters. An injury paused the attack but only briefly. The warriors pressed the Seawolves backwards to their try line. Utah opted for a 10 meter scrum instead of a penalty kick, and after several phases it was a back that acted the forward, taking a pick and go into the try zone for the Utah lead. The conversion was successful in the swirling wind bringing the score to 17-10 (27th minute).
Off the restart, it was big #8 Riekert Hattingh who took the ball immediately into Warrior territory. A forced penalty and Seattle once again goes to the often lethal line out and maul combination. The maul rolls in close and stalls 3 meters out.
The eventual Man-of-the-Match Brad Tucker found a seam on a pick and drive and dotted the ball across the line. Staller’s conversion was again true in the wind and the game was knotted up once more at 17-all (31st minute).
A dynamic run by Moore breaks the stalemate into Seattle territory. On the front foot and attacking, Utah got the ball out wide to the wing. Nolan Tuamoheloa gets the dot-down in the corner as Utah takes grabs another 5 points. The wind pushed the conversion wide and the Warriors take the lead 22-17 (34th minute).
Utah looked to expand on their lead as Don Pati showed off fancy footwork to get through the first line of defense. The Seawall stood strong, eventually forcing a Utah error and relieving the pressure, but still needing answers as they headed into half time down a try.
The Warriors would quickly gain their bonus point try as it was Moore again breaking the Seawall and gifting the ball to a sprinting O’Malley, who would not be stopped. Scoring under the posts and converting his try pushed Utah ahead further 29-17 (43rd minute).
Finally, the Seawolves got their act together. Facing the wind, Seattle opted to retain possession and after a few phases, Tucker again found a hole in the defense and made it in from 15 meters out for his second try of the contest. With the conversion successful, Utah’s lead is back to 5 points 29-24 (46th minute).
The Seawall is once again put to the test and prevails, gaining possession, only to be tackled into touch. The Seattle forwards stole the ensuing lineout and pressed into midfield. Sequoyah Burke-Combs collected the ball on the wing and broke several tackles on his way to the try zone. Staller’s foot added the conversion as Seattle took back the lead and their own try bonus point 31-29 (50th minute).
Joey Iosefa had a bruising run after Seattle was pinned pack on the restart. A Warrior penalty was added onto the 20 meter scamper and the Seawolves were back in control of the game. Forcing another Utah penalty, Seattle opts for another lineout at the 5 meter line. As the maul nears the try line, hooker Stephan Coetzee breaks free and crosses over to extend Seattle’s lead. Staller’s conversion gets blown off the mark and the Seawolves are up 36-29 (57th minute).
Seattle maintained pressure as they kept possession, swinging the ball from sideline to sideline. Their patience is awarded as an attacking Seattle maul off a lineout is collapsed illegally, and the Seawolves are awarded a 10 meter scrum.
Hattingh is the juggernaut that tore through the Warrior defense on a pick and drive and Seattle increased their distance from Utah. With the successful conversion into the wind, Seattle is up by 2 scores 43-29 (66th minute).
The Seawall is tested as the clock passes 70 minutes. Utah put together a strong set of phases gets the ball near the Seawolves’ goal line. Josh Whippy is able to press the ball against the upright padding for a try. O’Malley’s conversion is good and Utah had a glimmer of a comeback only down seven points 43-36 (72nd minute).
Utah attempted to capitalize on the momentum as they pressed into Seattle territory with five minutes left. The Seawall did what they are supposed to as they forced a knock on that found its way into Matt Turner’s arms and he galloped coast to coast for the nail in the Warrior coffin. Staller’s conversion missed the mark and Seattle went up 48-36 (76th minute).
The Seawolves held the 12 point lead through the frantic last few minutes, earning a much needed 5 points in the standings. Seattle (6-3-0 32TP) is tied for 3rdwith RUNY and a point behind 2ndplace Glendale Raptors.
Seattle extends their road trip in Houston against the Houston Sabercats (2-6-0 11TP) in their new home at Aviva Stadium this Saturday at 3PM (PT). Utah will need to gather everything they can as they travel to league leaders NOLA midday Saturday.
Seattle Seawolves 48, Utah Warriors 36
Man of the Match: Brad Tucker
Tries: Franco van den Berg (17’), Fetu’u Vainikolo (27’), Nolan Tuamoheloa (34’), Tim O’Malley (43’), Josh Whippy (72’)
Conversions: Tim O’Malley 4/5 (18’), (28’), (44’), (73’)
Penalties: Tim O’Malley 1/1 (6’)
Tries: Brock Staller (9’), Brad Tucker (31’), (46’), Sequoyah Burke-Combs (50’), Stephan Coetzee (57’), Riekert Hattingh (66’), Matt Turner (76’)
Conversions: Brock Staller 5/7 (10’), (32’), (47’), (51’), (67’)
Penalties: Brock Staller 1/1 (2’)