The first match on the list is the Raptors 19-15 Round 2 victory over the Seattle Seawolves from 2018.
Those that are familiar with Major League Rugby know that it’s tough to win in Seattle. The Seawolves call Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila, Washington their home and they defend about as well as anyone in the MLR defends their home turf.
After pushing around the San Diego Legion in Round 1, the Seawolves got ready to take on a Glendale Raptors team that was the clear cut favorite to win the entire competition in 2018.
In what would be a preview of the 2018 Major League Rugby championship, it was the Raptors that took care of business and handed the Seawolves their first-ever loss on their home turf. The Seawolves went almost an entire calendar year before dropping another match at Starfire Sports Stadium when they fell 28-22 to the San Diego Legion on March 31, 2019.
A budding league desperately needs a rivalry, and this match was the first chapter in one of Major League Rugby’s first true rivalries. The Raptors would go on to beat the Seawolves one more time in the 2018 regular season before Seattle flipped the script and knocked the Raptors off in the 2018 MLR Championship.
The 2019 season saw the Raptors and the Seawolves play each other two more times, with the Seawolves winning both matches. Just as the Raptors had done in this 2018 Round 2 matchup, it was the Seawolves who handed the Raptors their first-ever home loss in May 2019.
Aside from all of the historical significance the match would eventually carry, it was about as good of a match as the MLR could’ve asked for in only its second weekend of existence.
Before the season played itself out, it was pretty apparent from the jump that the Raptors and the Seawolves were two of the better sides in the entire competition.
Both rosters were loaded with talent and both sides ran like well-oiled machines from the beginning of the 2018 season. When they squared off back in April of 2018, everyone knew they were going to be in for a treat.
That’s exactly what happened.
From the minute the match kicked off, it was apparent that both teams had done their homework. They each had a plan and they stuck to it.
It was the Raptors who struck first in the match, though, with fly-half Will Magie hitting two penalty goals to give them a 6-0 lead heading into the 25th minute of play.
From there, the Raptors extended their lead with a beautiful try when Zach Fenoglio chased down his own grubber and slid into the in-goal. Magie was unable to hit the conversion, but the Raptors took an 11-0 lead into the 37th minute of play.
Seawolves wing Brock Staller nailed a penalty goal just before the half to cut the Raptors lead to eight points before the half.
The Raptors had to be thanking their stars that they put some points on the board early because – as it’s known to do in the Pacific Northwest – the rain came down hard in the second half and the ball was nearly impossible to hang onto.
Just before the conditions got too sloppy, though, the Raptors tacked on one more try when wing Harley Davidson dotted the ball down in the corner. Magie wasn’t able to hit the conversion, but the Raptors extended their lead to 16-3 in the 49th minute.
It was after Davidson’s score that the Seawolves flipped the switch a bit. After working the ball back into the Raptors territory, Seawolves scrum-half/coach Phil Mack quick tapped the ball on a penalty and snuck past the Raptors defense. Mack’s quick thinking set up a Vili Tolutau pick-and-go try to cut into the Raptors lead. Staller’s conversion made it 16-10 heading into the final 20-minute frame, and all of a sudden we had a ballgame on our hands.
Magie added a penalty goal in the 72nd minute to extend the Raptors lead to nine points and essentially put the match out of reach, but the Seawolves showed no quit and were rewarded for their efforts in extra time as outside center George Barton rumbled in for a try. Staller missed the conversion and the Raptors walked away with an extremely impressive 19-15 win over the Seawolves.
Tries: Zach Fenoglio, Harley Davidson
Conversions: Will Magie (0/2)
Penalty Goals: Will Magie (3/4)
Tries: Vili Tolutau, George Barton
Conversions: Brock Staller (1/2)
Penalty Goals: Brock Staller (1/1)