Bonus point win on the road for San Diego over ATL,
San Diego picked up their fourth win of the season with a 35-10 road win over Rugby ATL on Saturday. The Legion always looked in command but left it late to secure the bonus point.
After a brief feeling-out process, a penalty at midfield gave the visitors the first scoring opportunity. Will Hooley found the corner with his kick but it was the backline instead of the maul that created a try. Smooth hands from Marcel Brache and Mikey Te’o set Tomas Aoake free and the speedster finished in acrobatic fashion, with Hooley slotting the extras from the touchline.
The home side responded with a sensational try from their own end. Martini Talapusi split the midfield and raced up the pitch. He connected with Rewita Biddle, who in turn stepped past two defenders before offloading to a trailing Vili Helu for the score. Kurt Coleman’s kick was wide but ATL was back in the game.
Some nifty Te’o footwork set up three points from the boot of Hooley. Next it was Ma’a Nonu who broke free up the middle. His pass didn’t go to hand but the bounce favored Nate Augspurger, the winger slicing back infield to take it inside the 5-meter line. Richard Judd opted to take it on himself and fended off his opposite Ryan Rees to score.
ATL suffered a double blow as first Biddle limped off with a bad knee, and then Austin White followed. San Diego went back on attack and the first attempt was failed by a Jason Damm turnover, but with time up in the first half they won a penalty that Hooley landed to take an 18-5 lead into the sheds.
Tiaan Erasmus came in at hooker to start the second half with Alex Maughan shifting to loosehead prop for ATL. Erasmus found his targets at the lineout and Isaac Ross was handed a yellow card for collapsing a maul in scoring position. Ross had barely reached the bin when Maughan squeezed in from short range.
An overthrow from Erasmus gave the Legion a response five minutes later. The ball went wide right and then came back to Dan Pryor, only just on for Blair Cowan, who reached out of a tackle to score with his first touch of the game. Hooley’s conversion made it a three-score game and seemed to take the starch out of the ATL attack.
The Legion continued to press and eventually got what they wanted. Brache grubbered ahead and through the ATL cover regathered the ball, the San Diego forwards were there in numbers to win the counter-ruck. Nathan Sylvia went low and hard to cross the line for the bonus point try.
One final score went to the visitors with just seconds left on the clock. Josh Henderson, now in at flyhalf, floated a miss-pass to Aoake, who in turn fed Augspurger loitering on his opposite wing. He was again stopped just short but Judd was on hand to dart into the corner and put a bow on the victory.
It’s a week off for the Legion who will now prepare for their home match against Old Glory DC on Sunday, April 2. ATL hit the road to play the Houston SaberCats next Saturday.
Tries (2) – V. Helu (17′), A. Maughan (47′)
Cons (0) – K. Coleman 0/2
SAN DIEGO 35
Tries (5) – T. Aoake (8′), R. Judd 2 (27′, 79′), D. Pryor (52′), N. Sylvia (76′)
Cons (2) – W. Hooley 2/3 (9′, 53′), J. Henderson 0/2
Pens (2) – W. Hooley 2/2 (21′, 40’+3′)
YC (1) – I. Ross (46′)
1 Jonas Petrakopoulos (16 Tiaan Erasmus HT), 2 Alex Maughan (18 Lincoln Si’i 74′), 3 Wikus Groenewald (17 Will Burke 60′), 4 Justin Basson (19 Nahuel Milán 60′), 5 Johan Momsen (capt.), 6 Vili Helu (20 Daemon Torres 66′), 7 Matt Heaton, 8 Jason Damm, 9 Ryan Rees (21 Rowan Gouws 57′), 10 Kurt Coleman, 11 Austin White (22 Seth Purdey 32′), 12 Rewita Biddle (23 Nolan Tuamoheloa 28′), 13 Will Leonard, 14 Te Rangatira Waitokia, 15 Martini Talapusi
SAN DIEGO LEGION
1 Faka’osi Pifeleti (17 Djustice Sears-Duru 60′), 2 Shilo Klein (16 Sean McNulty 60′), 3 Chris Baumann (18 Nathan Sylvia 46′), 4 Ben Grant, 5 Isaac Ross (21 Chris Turori 72′), 6 Christian Poidevin, 7 Blair Cowan (capt.) (19 Dan Pryor 51′), 8 Tupou Afungia (20 Tevita Tameilau 67′), 9 Richard Judd, 10 Will Hooley (22 Josh Henderson 57′), 11 Nate Augspurger, 12 Ma’a Nonu (23 Tiaan Loots 51′), 13 Marcel Brache, 14 Tomas Aoake, 15 Mikey Te’o
Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Assistants: Cisco Lopez (USA) & Dave Edwards (USA)
TMO: Kahlil Harrison (USA)
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