San Diego Legion put in a ferocious performance against the league-leading, undefeated Glendale Raptors on Saturday night. Glendale was kept scoreless through 78 minutes of the match, and San Diego earned a 23-5 victory in their Major League Rugby regular season finale. Another great crowd turned out to Torero Stadium for Women’s Appreciation Night, lifting San Diego Legion to a dominating offensive and defensive display of rugby.
The match immediately began with San Diego having possession as scrum-half Nick Boyer, and SD Legion forwards pushing back the Glendale defense deep into their half. In the 3rd minute the referee penalized Glendale Raptors for illegal rucking, giving San Diego fly-half Tadhg Leader an opportunity to kick a penalty goal. Leader lined up the kick perfectly and put San Diego ahead 3-0.
As the match began to even out, Glendale became more settled and earned some strings of attacking possession. San Diego’s defense held firm and did well to both deny Glendale any serious attacking opportunities and turn the ball over when the Raptors started to gain momentum. In the 19th minute, a breaking run from San Diego Legion’s Anthony Salaber forced Glendale to infringe at the ruck once again, providing Leader his second opportunity for penalty points. The San Diego fly-half made no mistake and slotted the kick through the posts to give San Diego a 6-0 lead. As the match continued, it showcased a comedy of errors over the next 20 minutes, sending the two sides into halftime with San Diego Legion keeping the Glendale Raptors scoreless.
The second half was almost completely controlled by San Diego Legion as they stayed on the front foot through the opening minutes of the half. The first try of the match came in the 47th minute thanks to the hot-stepping feet of San Diego Legion outside-center, Ryan Matyas, who bolted through a gap in the Glendale back line to race for the try. Leader successfully made the conversion to push the score to 13-0 in San Diego’s favor.
After 10 minutes of subsequent San Diego attacking pressure, the home team’s second try of the match was made by Drew Gaffney. A five-meter lineout deep in Glendale’s half allowed the San Diego Legion forwards to work their trademark driving maul, pushing the Glendale Raptors’ forwards back across their own try-line as Gaffney touched down for the try. Leader bashed through another conversion and gave San Diego Legion a 20-0 advantage.
Glendale tried their best to make a comeback over the ensuing 10 minutes that followed and were denied by a stiff San Diego defense. Leader successfully kicked a difficult penalty in the 71st minute to push San Diego’s lead once again and all but secure the win. Glendale scored a well-earned try in the 79th minute to gain some consolation as the crowd roared with excitement at yet another home victory. Gaffney’s epic second try for San Diego Legion earned him the Knockaround ‘Man of the Match’ award.
The 23-5 victory over MLR’s once undefeated Glendale Raptors secures the #3 seed for San Diego Legion, as the team heads into the MLR Championship Series. The team will have a week of preparation before heading to Glendale, CO for the MLR Playoffs against the Seattle Seawolves next Saturday (kickoff time 4 p.m. PT). The match will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network and we will have live in-match updates via San Diego Legion’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
See photos from the match HERE.
The MLR Championship Series will begin on Saturday, June 30, which includes single-game elimination, doubleheader matches between the top four teams—Glendale Raptors, Seattle Seawolves, San Diego Legion and Utah Warriors. Both MLR Playoff games will be televised by CBS Sports Network and streamed online by ESPN+/ESPN 3, with coverage beginning at 4 p.m. PT. Based on the results from each match, the two winning teams will advance to the MLR Championship on July 7.
MLR Playoffs Schedule
**View Game day roster here.**