Round 14 of Major League Rugby brought with it four more matches decided by six points or less and saw one more team officially eliminated from playoff contention.
As each team’s story continues to be written, there is arguably none more interesting than the season that the Utah Warriors are having thus far. For the third-consecutive week, the Warriors chipped away at a two-score deficit to cheat death and win a match at the buzzer. Rugby United New York fell victim to the Warriors’ late-game antics in Round 14 as Mika Kruse scored the game-winning try in the corner with only a few minutes left to play.
The 29-28 win was a huge one for Utah as they continue to try to walk down the four-point advantage that the Los Angeles Giltinis have over them in the table, it was also a blow to RUNY. New York has no reason to panic, but they have to be a little bit more uncomfortable than they were a week prior. They still are in control of the second playoff spot in the east, but the margin for error is that much smaller. They are three points ahead of NOLA Gold, and the two teams could be slugging it out for a playoff spot in the season finale depending on how things go over the course of the next few weeks.
The Gold are in that position because they picked up a 18-12 victory over the Toronto Arrows on Saturday afternoon. The win helps keep them in squarely in the mix for a playoff spot and also eliminated the Arrows from playoff contention. For a team that was dealt the toughest cards of any MLR team in 2021, they have continued to fight to the end. Eventually 14+ weeks away from home wears a team down, and that’s what happened to the Arrows this season.
For NOLA, they’ll have to do something they’ve hard a hard time doing all season if they want to lock in their first-ever playoff spot as an organization. They’ll need to start stringing some wins together. Before they look too far ahead, they’ll need to fend of the New England Free Jacks in Round 15.
A team that continues to take care of business is Rugby ATL. They handed the Houston SaberCats their ninth-straight loss on Saturday afternoon in the form of a 33-15 victory, and kept ahold of the top spot in the east after dropping a match to RUNY in Round 13. They’ll need to keep their foot on the gas through thir last three matches as they will take on an Old Glory D.C. team that already beat them this year, a Warriors team that is hungry for table points, and what could be a New England Free Jacks team that could very well be fighting for their playoff lives in the season finale.
Sunday’s fixtures saw Los Angeles Giltinis travel down to sunny San Diego to take on the Legion for the California Cup. You just knew that a San Diego team desperate for some points and playing in front of their home crowd for the first time this season was going to give the Giltinis their best shot. That’s exactly what happened, but the Giltinis overcame a slow start to defeat the Legion 19-13 and pick up their 10th win of the season.
Round 15’s match against the Austin Gilgronis now becomes the biggest one of the season for them. They’ll need some help the rest of the way, but they need to beat the Austin Gilgronis to have any shot at all of leapfrogging whoever winds up in second place in the west.
The final match of the weekend saw that Austin Gilgronis knock off the Seattle Seawolves 36-31, and that was probably a little closer than Austin would’ve liked as the Seawolves tried to play spoiler on Sunday night. Austin can’t afford to drop any matches down the stretch as they try to catch the Utah Warriors for the seocnd playoff spot in the west. They’ll face a desperate San Diego Legion team in Round 15 and then will have to turn around and play the table toppers in the Los Angeles Giltinis in consecutive weeks. On top of that, they’ll need the Warriors to drop a match as well.