Rugby

MLR 2023 – ARN Team of the Week – Round 6

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It was a memorable week for Major League Rugby, but not really in the way anyone wanted. Weather played a major role in three games, cancelling the second half entirely in Chicago. Toronto couldn’t even field a full match day squad against Utah and ATL forgot to show up in the first half against Houston. That said, there were some individual standouts.

1 – Lolani Faleiva (Toronto Arrows) A truly fearsome sight with ball in hand, as the scattered bodies in Utah can attest. His try from a standing start in the first half was something else. Enjoyed a back-and-forth scrum battle against Angus MacLellan.

2 – Dean Muir (Houston SaberCats) Back from his paternity leave and he gave a noticeable lift to his teammates. Scored one try himself and popped off the deck for Carlo de Nysschen to score. NOLA’s Pat O’Toole went all 80 minutes and had another fine afternoon.

3 – Joel Hintz (New England Free Jacks) Finally got his chance in the run-on side after waiting patiently and he seemed to revel in the conditions. Hurled himself into rucks with ferocious intent and gave Dallas all they could handle in the scrum.

4 – Cam Dolan (NOLA Gold) It wasn’t just the lineout this week, Dolan produced a bit of magic with a no-look pass to Jordan Trainor for a magical try. Over in Quincy there were industrious efforts from Dallas’ Lucas Bur and Semisi Paea of the Free Jacks.

5 – Conor Keys (New England Free Jacks) Had the Seawolves played a full game there’s a decent chance Ben Landry would have got the nod. The game in Quincy was one for the purists and a day for tight five players to show their worth, and Keys was right in the thick of the action and came oh-so-close to scoring a try. Also made himself acquainted with a few Dallas players off the ball.

6 – Lautaro Bavaro (Old Glory DC) The two skippers – New England’s Mitch Jacobson and Jerónimo Gómez Vara for Dallas – were excellent, but instead of deciding between them we’ll go with Bavaro. Put in a tireless 80-minute shift and despite being one of the shortest forwards on the pitch he still managed to pinch a lineout without the aid of a lift!

7 – Lance Williams (Utah Warriors) Disruptive around the pitch and had to work double-duty for a stretch when Thomas Tu’avao was binned. Sam Malcolm will be having nightmares about his rampaging run down the wing to set up Paul Lasike’s try. A handful of others were in the mix.

8 – Tom Florence (NOLA Gold) An early front-runner for best forward. Seems to be capable of adapting to any role required. Florence made ground with every carry against DC including a couple line breaks, one of which set up a try for Jordan Trainor. New England’s Wian Conradie was next in line.

9 – Ross Braude (Toronto Arrows) Another who was critical to keeping the terribly-depleted side from getting blown off the park… for 6o-odd minutes anyway. Braude scored a try that actually put Toronto into the lead for a brief moment. Danny Tusitala wasn’t far off for DC.

10 – Davy Coetzer (Houston SaberCats) Every week it’s a struggle to pick somebody. NOLA’s Rodney Iona, DC’s Tito Díaz Bonilla, and even 40 minutes from Seattle’s AJ Alatimu were all worth a shout. Coetzer’s 20-point first half against ATL was about as good as it gets, and the only thing that didn’t go his way was a rushed drop goal.

11 – Joe Mano (Utah Warriors) The first name on the sheet this week. Caused absolute fits every time he touched the ball against the Arrows and scored three tries himself. Lauina Futi was having a sunny day in Chicago until the lightning showed up.

12 – Tyler Fisher (Utah Warriors) His first game of the season and it was a good one. Fisher reminded the Warriors of his abilities, with his pass setting Mano free for his first try and an outside break sending Caleb Makene into the corner for the grand finale. Fair play to Mitch Eadie for his midfield cameo for the Arrows that included a few big moments.

13 – JP du Plessis (NOLA Gold) A terrific performance on both sides of the ball. Scored one try himself, played a key role in one for Ross Depperschmidt, and somehow stopped what looked a certain score for Mike Dabulas. Ben LeSage had a strong game for the Free Jacks.

14 – Christian Dyer (Houston SaberCats) Back on the wing this week and looked just as happy as he was in the midfield. Pulled off a miracle try despite the best attention of Martini Talapusi, and was only denied a double by a marginal TMO review of an earlier breakdown.

15 – Marcos Moroni (Dallas Jackals) It was a bit of a kick-fest in Quincy and the Argentine was up for it. Covered every blade of grass, repeatedly plucked high balls out of the air, and often returned fire with interest. Threatened with ball in hand when rare opportunities presented themselves.

MLR 2023 – ARN Team of the Week – Round 6 .

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