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 Chicago Hounds

Hounds Suffer Tough Loss to Seawolves

April 1, 2024 - Major League Rugby (MLR)
Chicago Hounds News Release

CHICAGO, IL - The Hounds fell to 1-3-1 on Saturday night after a relentless Seattle Seawolves side battled their way back from 26-0 to win 34-26. The Hounds slide down to fourth in the Eastern Conference standings and turn their attention to a pivotal conference-matchup against the NOLA Gold this weekend.

It was a dream start for the Hounds- a literal dream start. They immediately applied pressure and found themselves deep in Seattle's half in the opening five minutes. After multiple phases of attack through the forwards, scrumhalf Nick McCarthy found flyhalf Adriaan Carelse who quickly sent the ball to captain Billy Meakes. The Seawolves defense collapsed on the center- but he did well to get the ball out to rookie wing Noah Brown, making his first MLR start. The former Hoosier pinned his ears down and raced for the corner- doing well to finish the first Hounds' try of the night. Carelse didn't connect on the conversion, but the Hounds had a 5-0 lead just moments into the game.

The Hounds defense came out of the gates roaring. If Seattle got into the Hounds' half, the big green wall would suffocate the Seawolves phase after phase. In the 10th minute, after phases of shutting Seattle down, Chicago won a penalty. They didn't hit the lineout after kicking for touch, but sloppy ball from the Seawolves resulted in a Chicago scrum. The Hounds won a penalty in the scrum and opted for a shot at goal, but Carelse narrowly missed his second attempt of the day.

The Hounds got the ball back and won another penalty, again kicking for touch. The lineout worked this go-around. Chicago attacked the wide side of the field for a few phases before McCarthy connected with Meakes on a pass down the blind side of the ruck. Meakes froze the Seattle wing with some well-timed head-fakes and cut inside, breaking free from the tackle attempt. Seattle flyhalf Mack Mason was there to clean up the tackle, but Meakes got his hands free and hit wing Julian Dominguez streaking down the left sideline. Dominguez brushed a Seattle defender off before dotting down his second score of the season. The kick was good and Chicago led 12-0 after 15 minutes.

Noah Brown extended the lead with his second try of the day just moments later. He read the Seawolves' attack well and intercepted a pass before racing in 45 meters. Carelse hit the conversion attempt and it was 19-0 before the first-half water break. The Hounds were cooking.

More penalties won for Chicago. More pressure for Chicago. More points for Chicago. The Hounds got the four-try bonus point in the 26th minute via forward Mason Flesch. The Hounds' standout finished off a multi-phase attack from Chicago that extended the lead to 24-0. Carelse converted the afters-attempt and the lead extended even more to 26-0. Then Seattle came roaring back.

The Seawolves got points on the board in the 35th minute through a wing Jade Stighling try. Mason didn't hit the conversion attempt but he added another try for Seattle right before halftime. This time, the conversion attempt was successful. The Hounds' momentum seemingly evaporated and the score sat at 26-12 heading into halftime.

Seattle scrumhalf JP Smith got the scoring started in the second half. He crossed over for a try in the 43rd minute and after a successful Mason conversion kick, the Chicago lead was cut down to 7, 26-19. The lead was erased to just two points in the 48th minute after Sam Windsor scored the Seawolves' fourth try of the night. Mason missed the kick but at 26-24, it was anyone's ballgame with more than half an hour to play.

The score remained the same until the 75th minute. A Hounds penalty gave Mason a penalty attempt that he slotted through, giving the Seawolves their first lead of the game, 27-26. Replacement back Toni Pulu broke through for another Seattle try in the 78th minute, extending the lead to six. Mason's conversion attempt was good and made it a two-score game with time basically in the red.

Fourth-overall draft pick Noah Brown turned heads in his first Major League Rugby start. After running for 88 meters last week, the rookie wing led all Hounds' ball carriers with 142 meters this week. Through his first three MLR games, Brown has 17 carries for 239 meters, along with a pair of clean line breaks, eight defenders beaten, and two tries. In a draft class waiting for someone to stick their hand up as a potential Rookie of the Year candidate, Brown answered the call this weekend.

The Hounds now turn their attention to the NOLA Gold, who are coming off a Week 5 bye. The Gold currently sit in second place in the Eastern Conference with 15 table points with a 3-1 record. They've beaten Old Glory DC, the Carolina Anthem, and the Dallas Jackals while losing to New England in week three.

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