Seattle Creates History, Wins First Major League Rugby Championship

In their third, and most important, meeting of the season, the Seattle Seawolves beat the Glendale Raptors and took home the MLR Championship shield.

SAN DIEGO, CA- The Seattle Seawolves held out the Glendale Raptors to pull off an impressive victory and claim the first Major League Rugby (MLR) Championship, 23-19. In a game with five lead changes, the Seawolves were able to avenge their previous two losses to The Raptors in the regular season.

After much anticipation in the lead up to the match, the championship got underway courtesy of Will Magie's boot. However, the first points of the game came from his opposing number in the eighth minute, as Pete Smith kicked a penalty to open the game with a 3-0 lead to the Seawolves.

It didn't take long for the Raptors to find a response as they capitalized off strong field position and some ill-discipline, launching into a maul to find their way across the line. Zach Fenoglio was credited with the score in the 13th minute.

The Seawolves found a response in an almost identical style. This time it was their turn to use a rolling maul from a lineout to push their way over the line.  When the conversion was pushed wide and they found themselves holding a fragile lead of just one point.

After the frantic start to the game things died down a bit, and perhaps the nerves began to show for both teams. The Seawolves and Raptors took their turns in creating pressure, but ultimately were unable to capitalize and saw opportunities squandered. In the case of Seattle, it was an obstruction that prevented them from extending their lead. For Glendale, it was a knock on held the Raptors back from retaking the advantage. As both teams went into the sheds for half time they knew that the game was still there to be won, but the first 20 minutes of the second half would be crucial.

Glendale was the first team to strike in the second half, but they had to work for it. It was a try that looked identical to the two others that had been scored before it in the match. A maul 5 meters out from Seattle's line gave them the perfect platform to push their way over and retake the lead. They didn't have to wait long before they found themselves crossing the line once again; as five minutes later, a brilliant piece of counter attack from Shaun Davies and a couple of lucky bounces saw Bryce Campbell able to stroll in under the posts and Glendale saw their lead climb out to 11 in the blink of an eye.

Celebration was short live for the Raptors, as the Seawolves struck back two minutes later, and momentum was back with Seattle. Some slick handling under pressure and a large overlap saw a try scored in the corner. Glendale's lead was once again within striking distance, and strike they did.

The Seawolves scored in quick succession through lightning quick hands down the blindside and space opened up for them. A brilliant support line from Riekert Hattingh saw the large number eight gallop the better part of forty meters to score, in almost the exact same spot that they had crossed only a few minutes earlier. With a successful conversion from Smith, Seattle had regained their lead.

A penalty with ten minutes left extended Seattle's lead past to four meaning, a try would have to be scored if Glendale wanted to win the game. The Raptors threatened to score, but untimely mistakes ended up thwarting their chances and the Seawolves held on to claim an historic victory.