LEGION GET TOUGH WIN AT UTAH, IMPROVE TO 10-1
In a hard fought battle, the Legion came out on top on the road 26-16, becoming the first MLR team to reach 10 wins on the year.
Zions Bank Stadium, Utah | May 6, 2023
In perhaps one of their toughest games this season, the Legion were able to come out victorious on the road against a tough Utah Warriors squad. This also served as the 50th MLR cap game for 8-man Tevita Tameilau.
Utah struck first via a Logan Tago try in the corner to put the Warriors ahead, 5-0. The Legion responded a few minutes later with a successful Luke Burton penalty kick to cut the lead to 5-3. Burton made his first start for the Legion this season and was named Man of The Match.
With the score stuck at 5-3 for around 20 minutes, Burton would break the ice with another penalty kick, giving the Legion the lead 6-5. The Legion were perfect in penalty kicks on the night.
Just before the conclusion of the first half, Utah would score another try to take a 10-6 lead at the break. This was the first time the Legion have trailed at the mid-way point this season.
Coming out of the second half, full-back Matias Freyre scored a much needed try off a Michael Smith pass to put the Legion ahead 13-10. Utah would later even the score with a penalty kick from fly-half Joel Hodgson. Both Hodgson and Burton had several opportunities to display their kicking skills.
Continuing the trend, Burton would again capitalize off a Utah penalty to add three points to the score and retake the lead, 16-13. This lead was short lived though, as Hodgson would respond with a penalty kick of his own and tie the game at 16 a piece. This would be the last time Utah would score on the night.
On the ensuing kickoff, Tevita Tameilau was first to the ruck and drew a 'not releasing' penalty on Utah. When a ball carrier is tackled, he is not allowed to hold onto the ball when a defender gets his hands on it. The Legion turned this penalty into points via a Will Hooley penalty kick. Hooley relieved Burton at the fly-half position and the Legion did not skip a beat. With the score 19-16, the game was far from out of reach.
At the 75th minute, captain Blair Cowan was able to 'poach' a ball from a Utah ball carrier and steal possession from the Warriors. Capitalizing off the mistake, Mike Smith was able to score a game-icing try under the posts to make it a two-possession game at 26-16. This would be the final score of the match. Smith, who was in medical school just three weeks ago, made his second appearance for the Legion this season and has had a massive impact in both matches. Smith was named to the MLR 'First XV' for Round 12.
San Diego sweeps Utah in 2023, and maintains a steady lead at first place in the MLR. The Legion look onto to their second straight road game on May 13 vs NOLA Rugby.