Major League Rugby Week 12 Preview

In our first game of the weekend the Toronto Arrows travel to Houston to face the Sabercats and will be looking to boost their chances of a playoff spot. Back-to-back wins at home have put the Arrows level on points with New York and technically in front on scoring differential, but the latter has a game at hand. This is one of only two road games left in Toronto’s regular season and a win would be a huge boost in confidence heading into the stretch.

The SaberCats are themselves in the middle of a playoff race in the Western Conference. A close loss the Giltinis in LA sees them two points back of San Diego for third spot. With only three home games left on their schedule this is close to must-win territory for Houston. The difference in style here are considerable. Houston kept things tight against LA and with effectively four locks in the starting pack one can expect them to stick closely to that script. Toronto mixed up their attack against NOLA and can venture a little wider given a clear advantage at the breakdown via Rumball and O’Neill. The Arrows have never lost to Houston and that trend looks set to continue on Saturday.

From one tough matchup to another, NOLA will play host to the Austin Gilgronis on Saturday evening. Last weekend saw the Gold concede 53 points to the Arrows and with the AG’s at the very top of the Major League Rugby scoring charts – by a wide margin – the defence will have to turn around quickly to avoid another hammering.

The loss in Toronto, NOLA’s third in a row, has effectively tossed them out of the playoff race barring a miracle turnaround in form. It’s now pride and potentially contracts for next season that are on the line. A win at home would also be welcome, with all five matches at The Gold Mine this season ending in defeat. How do NOLA pull off a win against the top team in MLR? It was a close contest when they collided last season, but this Austin side are miles ahead of last year’s version. The Gold arguably have the edge in the back row and home field advantage. Otherwise, however, it’s all AG and the visitors should be expected to win this one comfortably.

The two bottom-ranked teams on the Major League Rugby ladder will go head-to-head at Segra Field on Saturday evening. Old Glory DC and the Dallas Jackals have a combined record of 1-19, with the only win coming just a week ago for DC against the Utah Warriors. Dallas will be hoping this is their chance to leave the goose-egg behind.

Injuries have ravaged the Jackals this season and once again their line-up has required adjusting after losing Alejandro Torres early in the match against Austin. There is better new that Asa Carter has been passed fit to start while Matt Frings makes a timely return from suspension. Perfect conditions are expected at kick-off which should allow for an entertaining spectacle. This is the first ever meeting between the two sides but historical reference isn’t required to handicap this fixture. A revitalised Old Glory are stronger all-around and should be considered strong favourites to pick up their second win of this turbulent season.

The late game on Saturday is a Western Conference clash between the Utah Warriors and Seattle Seawolves at Zions Bank Stadium. When they last met in February it was the Seawolves who took a narrow win at home. Now the Warriors will be looking to return to the favour. A playoff spot is still mathematically possible for Utah but realistically is now out of reach following their loss to the previously-winless Old Glory last week. The spoiler role is one to be embraced, however, and there are a handful of players still vying for a spot in the Eagles squad.

Seattle are right in the thick of the playoff race after their impressive win over San Diego on Saturday. They are just one point back of the Legion and one above the Houston SaberCats, with all three vying for the West’s third and final postseason slot.

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