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Depleted RFCLA Go Down to Seattle in the Wet

April 14, 2024 - Major League Rugby (MLR)
Rugby FC Los Angeles News Release

In front of their biggest crowd to date, Rugby Football Club Los Angeles (RFCLA) came into their home match against the Seattle Seawolves on Sunday April 14 looking to keep the momentum going after a win and a tie.

Going into week 7, RFCLA were at the bottom of Major League Rugby's Western Conference with a 1-3-1 record; Seattle were tied for the lead with a 5-1 record.

The Seawolves kept on the offensive throughout the match, holding territory, winning the kicking game and creating openings for the backs while taking advantage of RFCLA errors, to storm to a 36-5 victory.

RFCLA started the match, played in 50 degree weather with light rains at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, without stars Will Leonard (outside center), Andrew Coe (wing), Alex Maughan (prop) and Matt Heaton (flanker).

The Seawolves applied early pressure, driving into RFCLA territory after the kickoff, but a big clearance from RFLCA took them into Seawolves territory. RFCLA won a penalty in the 4th minute. RFCLA Fly-half Dan Hollinshead put it wide to the right and the score stayed level at 0-0.

With the rain intensifying, lead commentator Will Hooley and co-host Ben Holden said the kicking strategy of both sides would be affected. By the 16th minute, RFCLA had already made 10 kicks and the Seawolves had kicked it 7 times. RFCLA, who have been hampered by penalties and turnovers so far this season, were winning the turnover, penalty and knock-on contest until the 18th minute, when Seawolves pressure - with the backs keeping it close to the forwards in the mauls - earned the visitors a penalty for a high tackle by flanker Semi Kunatani (No. 6). Seawolves Fly-half Windsor put it through the posts to take the lead 3-0.

The two teams continued to kick long to each other in the hope of forcing an error. RFCLA's defense kept the Seawolves out of the try zone until No. 8 and captain Reikert Hattingh scored the first try, his 41st in his career, bringing his MLR scoring tally to 200 points.

Fly-half Sam Windsor (No. 10) put the conversion through, giving the Seawolves a 10-0. Windsor's kicking in the rain kept the Seawolves in charge. In the 32nd minute a long kick earned the Seawolves a lineout inside the RFCLA 22, and a Windsor run brought his team two meters shy of the try line. Following a ruck, Windsor faked to the outside and took it inside for the try. "Slipping and sliding his way," said Hooley. "Great use of his hands and ability to stay on his feet... He read it really well." Windsor, MLR's all-time leading scorer, made the conversion for his 12th point of the day. The Seawolves led by 17-0.

The Seawolves kept up the pressure throughout the match, and RFCLA had some close calls near their opponents' try line that they couldn't translate into tries. RFCLA managed to hold a good amount of territory - 45 percent to 55 percent - and its defense held strong considering the Seawolves' power. Nearing the end of regulation time, with the Seawolves' lead insurmountable, RFCLA had made 157 tackles to their opponents' 70. RFLCA would continue to knock on the Seawolves' door, nearly scoring several times, but the Seawolves' defense wouldn't budge.

The Seawolves' No. 8, Hattingth, was named man of the match.

RFCLA, with a 1-4-1 record, will play the Chicago Hounds at SeatGeek Stadium in Chicago on April 21.

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