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A sloppy start and late penalty doom the Legion

SDRay

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https://www.sandiegouniontribune.co...rugby-united-new-york-mlr-20190127-story.html

An intentional knockdown penalty on Save Totovosau awarded visiting Rugby United New York the go-ahead points but really, the San Diego Legion’s struggles with possession were the main issues Sunday afternoon in a 25-23 loss at USD’s Torero Stadium.
Simply put: the Legion didn’t have the ball nearly enough and when they did, sloppy passing, an inability to get wide and attack New York’s flanks and turnovers led to a frustrating finish in the team’s Major League Rugby opener.
“If you want to score points, you have to hold onto the ball,” Legion captain Joe Pietersen said. “If you can’t hold the ball and get field position, you can’t break them down and create spaces to get points on the board.”
The Legion (0-1) fell behind 12-0 before finally getting something going in the 37th minute on a long drive that ended with Nick Boyer’s five-point try and a two-point Pietersen conversion.
Pietersen gave San Diego a 16-15 lead in the second half with a pair of three-point field goals, one of which came after the South African broke loose for the game’s longest play: a 50-meter romp that also elicited the day’s loudest cheers.
After a New York field goal, San Diego went ahead 23-18 when Pietersen punched in a try from short distance and followed it with a successful conversion from a sharp angle from 22 meters.
The game’s turning point came after New York put together a lengthy possession that ended in the 76th minute with Totovosau jumping in to intercept a lateral only to have the ball go directly into the turf.
Penalty.
Roughly four minutes remained but the Legion failed to reach midfield and the whistle blew with a New York kick out.
“We were very poor in the first half in terms of field position and holding the ball in attacking areas,” Legion coach Rob Hoadley said. “We just didn’t put any pressure on New York. We put more pressure on ourselves. We got back into it in the second half where we went to more of our strengths and getting outside. But we closed out the game very, very poor. We were too narrow in our defense. And then the penalty. We got what we deserved.”
The Legion host defending champion Seattle on Feb. 2 as they continue a season-opening four-game homestand. Major League Rugby is in its second season and added New York and Toronto franchises to bring the total to nine teams.
The schedule also expanded from eight to 16 games. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs.
While discussing Sunday’s loss and the league’s future, Hoadley was circled by a host of kids running around the field tossing rugby balls while others lined up to get autographs from players.
One youngster broke the tackle of another and burst free toward one of the goal areas. He was wearing the jersey of Odell Beckham of the NFL’s New York Giants.
“You could see the rise in quality with this New York team coming to town,” Hoadley said. “Watching Houston and Austin (Saturday) that was quality, so I think fans will continue to see better and better play as we grow. We’re certainly excited for the future.”
 

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