Every game is important as the season wanes, but none so much as this must-win for both sides.
Coming into the game off a bye weekend, Seattle was sitting in the sixth spot on the table with only a point separating them from-fourth place Rugby United New York (RUNY). With only four teams heading into the post season, Seattle needed the win to jump back into contention, where a loss would make it difficult and propel RUNY closer to the top.
Ahead 31-7 at the half, the Seawolves allowed RUNY to climb back in the second half but eventually stopped them short in front of their home crowd, 38-31.
RUNY tested the Seawall early, pulling in their own kickoff and getting the ball down into Seawolves territory on the back of a pair of Seattle penalties.
The Seawall maintained the pressure and would not relent, forcing a knock-on at the line.
With possession, it was Seattle’s turn to show their offense. The Seawolves found several holes in the RUNY defense as they methodically marched down the field. Matt Turner fended off a would-be shirt tackle and scampered in for the first score. Brock Staller marked the easy conversion and Seattle gets the lead 7-0 (12th minute).
A RUNY penalty off the restart gave Seattle the chance to exploit the momentum as they were awarded a line-out deep in NY territory. A couple phases later and a crashing Riekert Hattingh was stopped short, but stretched the ball over the line for Seattle’s second try. Staller maintained his success and the Seawolves were up 14-0 (16th minute).
Turner took a pass from Ben Cima off the restart and sprinted 60 meters for a third Seattle try. With Staller’s conversion, the Seawolves held a comfortable lead 21-0 (17th minute).
A kicking error by Cima, and RUNY got a chance to relieve some pressure with a scrum just inside the Seattle half. RUNY maintained possession behind a winding run through the Seawall by Cathal Marsh.
Seattle stopped a driving maul off a line-out but was caught sleeping on a penalty quick-tap by tight-head prop Paddy Ryan as he rumbled for RUNY’s first points. Cathal Marsh added the extras as RUNY remains behind 21-7 (27th minute).
The Seawall responded quickly, thwarting a RUNY attack and turned it into a 60-meter territorial gain. The gain was short-lived, however, and both teams tested the other with back-and-forth play until a deliberate knock-on allowed Staller to split the uprights for a penalty kick, bringing the Seawolves’ lead to 24-7 (38th minute).
Seattle pushed their lead further as Shalom Suniula side-stepped through the RUNY defense and off-loaded to a supporting JP Smith who dots it down for Seattle’s bonus-point try. Staller stayed perfect on the conversion and the clock hit 40 on Seattle’s 31-7 lead.
The second half brought out the defense until RUNY broke the deadlock with a perfectly weighted kick-pass that landed in the arms of Will Leonard on the wing. RUNY further accelerated their response with quick passing and another try on the edge by Connor Wallace-Sims. Marsh added both conversions for RUNY’s 14 unanswered points to shorten their deficit 31-21 (52nd minute).
The Seawall withstood a pounding RUNY offense at the goal line for numerous phases until a sweeping pass out wide was mishandled by RUNY and Seattle pushed out from under their own goalposts.
From a line-out at their own five-meter line, Seattle marched downfield, recycling between crafty kicks and runs by Sequoyah Burke-Combs and S. Suniula set up Phil Mack for Seattle’s fifth try. Staller adds the conversion and Seattle goes up 38-21 (66th minute).
Down 17 points, RUNY did not give up and as the game clocked under 10 minutes, Dylan Fawsitt scored two tries, one off a maul and the other off a short pass at the end of another cross-kick pass. Marsh was unsuccessful in both kicks, and the 10 points proved too little for a RUNY comeback.
A last-gasp effort was almost fruitful for RUNY, but the Seawall proved too strong at the line, forcing a knock-on and a scrum as the final bell sounded 38-31.
Seattle gets the five-point bonus win, while RUNY gains a valuable two losing bonus points.
On Saturday, the Seawolves (9-4-0 46TP) face another tough opponent on the road in Glendale, Colorado as the Raptors (7-4-2 42TP) are 4 points behind and vying for their own playoff spot.
RUNY will be heading down to Austin to face the Elite on Sunday.
Seattle Seawolves 38, Rugby United New York 31
Tries: Matt Turner (12’), (17’), Riekert Hattingh (16’), JP Smith (40’), Phil Mack (65’)
Conversions: Brock Staller 5/5 (13’), (17’), (18’), (40’), (66’)
Penalty Kicks: Brock Staller 1/1 (39’)
Tries: Paddy Ryan (27’), Will Leonard (47’), Connor Wallace-Sims (51’), Dylan Fawsitt (72’), (75’)
Conversions: Cathal Marsh 3/5 (28’), (48’), (52’)