MATCH: Giltinis To Host Western Conference Final Despite Dramatic Loss

19 days ago

The LA Giltinis are into the Western Conference final on the June 18-19 weekend despite a dramatic 35-27 loss to the Seattle Seawolves today.

The Giltinis have won hosting rights at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum by finishing on top of the fluctuating Western Conference standings with their 11-5 (54 points) record.

The post-season scenario took a major twist on Friday when the Austin Gilgronis, who finished on 58 points, were disqualified from taking a spot in the play-offs for violating Major League Rugby's competition rules.

It instantly cranked up what was at stake for the Seawolves, who had an unexpected lifeline to reach the play-offs if they could earn two points from Sunday’s visit to the Coliseum.

They played with that do-or-die intent throughout. The visitors iced the game with a 73-minute try to fullback Duncan Matthews after the Giltinis had repelled wave after wave of rumbling runners.

The Giltinis felt high frustration. They were twice stalled on the tryline when they lost the ball in the first half and a no-try ruling stung late in the game.

The Giltinis were down to 14 men with their second yellow card of the game when replacement flanker Cyrille Cama was sin-binned at the 65-minute mark for a dangerous cleanout.

Even with 14 men, the Giltinis looked to have secured a turnover from a Seattle maul. The ball was spun to the shortside when flyhalf Luke Carty dashed and dished a superb backhanded pass. Backrower Hanco Germishuys plunged over for the “try” (below).

It was disallowed by the Television Match Official spotting a lifted leg on the fringe of the maul which was judged to have unbalanced the maul.

Head coach Stephen Hoiles did not grab for excuses when saying the Giltinis were out-enthused.

“We were complacent and beaten by an opponent with more desire,” Hoiles said.

“It was disappointing to see us lazy in attack in the first half with players walking. It was as if we only got excited when we looked like scoring a try.

“We sparked up in the second half and there were definitely good moments but this is a wake-up call heading into the play-offs where every game is a knockout.”

Lock Nathan Den Hoedt continued his strong form. He lost the ball reaching for the line midway through the first half after an excellent counter-attack ignited by fullback Tom Mitchell.

He made a powerful burst in the lead-up to the slick Cristian Rodriguez try just after half-time when the Giltinis jumped to a 20-18 lead.

Lock partner Dave Dennis made a superb turnover tackle shortly after.

The lead changed six times in the seesawing clash. The Seawolves were ahead 25-20 when the value of the Giltinis’ bench really clicked.

At the 56-minute mark, winger Ryan James expertly caught a high kick ahead. Cama and hooker Lindsey Stevens, with the slick tip-on pass, put prop Charlie Abel (below) hurtling over for a 27-25 lead. The quartet were all off the bench.

It was the Giltinis last lead of the match.

The Giltinis scored the opening try of the match for an early 7-3 lead after six minutes. Winger Will Chambers made a strong ball-carry to set up quick ruck ball.

Centre Billy Meakes turned it into a try under the posts when the ball reached him. He confronted the defence, twisted and powered ahead with his trademark leg drive to plant the ball over the line even with three defenders trying to stop him.

Flyhalf Luke Carty was issued an early yellow card for a shoulder tackle, with no wrap of arms. The Seawolves took advantage of their extra man, scored a try and built confidence with a 13-7 lead.

The Seawolves will now face the Houston SaberCats next Sunday in an eliminator to decide which team meets the Giltinis in the Western Conference final.

Rugby ATL and Rugby New York face each other in next Saturday’s other eliminator to settle on a rival for the New England Free Jacks in the Eastern Conference final.

SEATTLE SEAWOLVES 35

Tries: Lauina Futi (12), Martin Iosefo (30), James Malcolm (54), Duncan Matthews (73)

Conversions: AJ Alatimu (12, 54, 73)

Penalty Goals: AJ Alatimu (4, 9, 61)

Beat

LA GILTINIS 27

Tries: Billy Meakes (6 min), Cristian Rodriguez (41), Charlie Abel (56)

Conversions: Luke Carty (41, 56)

Penalty Goals: Harrison Goddard (16), Luke Carty (23)

Half-time: 18-13 Seawolves

Venue: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

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