Giltinis Defeat 2x MLR Champs
A run-and-stun start from the LA Giltinis harpooned the Seattle Seawolves to set up a comprehensive 57-26 victory in Major League Rugby on Sunday.
The nine tries-to-four victory was a powerful statement against the two-time MLR champions at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Giltinis ran the ball from deep in their own territory from their opening touch to signal the intent that ignited a 19-0 lead inside the opening 13 minutes.
For the Giltinis (2-0), it was a clear lift in consistency and execution to keep MLR’s newest franchise atop the standings after their winning debut a week earlier.
The Giltinis had standouts aplenty with bearded lock Luke White, three-try halfback Harrison Goddard, strong-running centre Billy Me
Head coach Darren Coleman had forecast pre-match that he wanted to use the Giltinis’ superior speed of play and ball movement to create an uncomfortable match-up for a Seawolves side which relies on its big, direct pack.
The plan unfolded perfectly.
“We showed how dangerous we are when we get front-foot ball and keep the game up-tempo as we like it,” Coleman said.
“Some of our structured attack was quite slick.
“Luke White won our players’ player award and he did exactly what we wanted with his strong ball-carries and some tackles of real authority.
“We gave five players debuts, not just a few minutes but significant time, so that will be helpful as we continue to develop our game and the squad.”
The Giltinis were on the scoreboard in the second minute when prop Charlie Abel finished a driving maul off a lineout. He crashed over with his billowing version of mohawk mullet looking more like a full spinnaker at an America’s Cup regatta.
The score was 12-0 in the fifth minute with a perfectly executed move off a clean catch at the tail of the lineout. White twisted over after an inside pass from hooker Mahe Vailanu.
Clean lineout execution set up an even better try in the 13th minute when silky playmaker Matt Giteau put a pass inside to Abel, who delivered another inside ball to the hungry Goddard. Giltinis 19-0.
It was the first of three tries for Goddard, who passed crisply to Giteau and kicked intelligently in a performance that earned him The Rugby Network’s Man-of-the-Match award.
The only downside for the Giltinis was losing the influential Meakes, who made a succession of midfield breaks. The collision at the end of his last 30m run left him with a fractured cheekbone and he was forced off after 20 minutes.
“Billy was on fire out there. It’s very disappointing for him and hopefully he’ll be back in just a few weeks,” Coleman said.
Wallabies legend Adam Ashley-Cooper turned 37 on Saturday and celebrated with an accomplished 80-minute display. It included smart pressure on backpedalling Seawolves halfback JP Smith on the edge of a ruck which turned into a charged-down kick and a try.
It was a key play to keep the Giltinis rolling because they were playing with 14 men at the time because Vailunu was in the sinbin for a ruck infringement when defending on his tryline.
Ashley-Cooper was in the action again at the 31-minute mark when he popped an offload for San Diego wing product Ryan James to score his first try as a Giltini.
It was 38-7 at half-time thanks to another trademark White rumble which set up the quick ruck position for Goddard to score his second.
White’s heavy early tackles on key Seawolves forwards Rhyno Herbst and Andrew Durutalo were typical of him setting the physical tone for the Giltinis’ forwards.
The Giltinis had sprinted to 50-7 at a point a minute when Goddard capitalised on a big 5m scrum shunt to dot down for No.3 and flanker Angus Cottrell completed a sustained passage of attack for his first try.
The Giltinis had set a high bar for speed and precision of attack until the match took a U-turn for 10 minutes.
The Seawolves rumbled over for two tries from mauling drives off lineouts and a third was to come with the Giltinis down to 14 men because of a careless Cottrell infringement at a ruck.
Replacement Seawolves hooker James Malcolm bagged all three tries to close the score to 50-26.
Coach Coleman will be barking the message of better discipline because it took time for the Giltinis to snap back.
A 10m gallop from replacement prop Blake Rogers, an excellent ground-gaining kick from back-up five-eighth Luke Carty and the strong ball-carrying and tackling of reserve flanker Langilangi Haupeakui
Carty played 32 minute as replacement for Giteau while Haupeakui’s
Cottrell redeemed himself for the yellow card with the eighth and final Giltinis’ try with a late pick-and-drive effort.
LA GILTINIS 57
Tries: Harrison Goddard 3, Angus Cottrell 2, Charlie Abel, Luke White, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Ryan James,
Conversions: Matt Giteau 5, Luke Carty 1
SEATTLE SEAWOLVES 26
Tries: James Malcolm 3, Riekert Hattingh
Conversions: Ben Cima 3
Half-time: 38-7 Giltinis
Venue: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
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