Seattle Seawolves Return to DC – Week 9 Preview

After dropping their last match in the final play against Utah, Old Glory returns back to Segra Field to play the Seattle Seawolves. Winning will be critical to Old Glory’s playoff hopes, as they lag behind at the bottom of the east conference standings. For Seattle, this will be about avenging their close loss to OGDC in Cardinal Stadium in 2020.

Details

  • When: May 16, 2021
  • Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Where: Segra Field (map)
  • Channel: CBS (national), The Rugby Network (overseas)
  • Weather forecast: 66°F and cloudy, 20% chance of rain
  • Line: SEA by 3 (from Tackle the Numbers)

Preview

How good are the Seattle Seawolves?

The former champions have been having a rough time of it since they lifted the MLR shield in 2019. Their 2020 campaign was very rocky, with just a single match in the win column. 2021 started similarly, with just a single win until last week. They have looked disconnected and rudderless, missing many of the old hands that got them through earlier seasons.

However, the Seawolves have made a dramatic change in the last couple of weeks. They demoted their head coach and replaced him with Pate Tuilevuka, and that has brought about a significant change in tone for the struggling side. First they played a match against RUNY that was unexpectedly close, with New York stealing the win in the last few minutes. They then managed to beat their old rivals in San Diego last week by remaining stout on defense, something that has been a problem for them recently.

It is probably too soon to declare that the Seawolves are back after just two matches. But certainly, what looked like a gimme a few weeks ago is now something to be taken seriously. Tuilevuka has fired these players up, and they will be ready to take it to DC. There is nothing more dangerous than a team with a chip on its shoulder and a point to prove.

The front row of Seattle will be something to watch, particularly Mike Shepard and D’Justice Sears-Duru. Their locks are nothing to sniff at either, with Ben Landry and Samu Manoa being in good form. Captain Riekart Hattingh is always a force, especially at the breakdown. In the backs, we should be worried about Shalom Suniula and Ross Neal, who has really come into his own as a fullback

What does Old Glory need to do to win?

The biggest area of concern will be the scrum. We saw last week that the scrum still has problems, especially when the starters are off. Now, we should see Longwell start at tighthead, which should prevent things going south like they did against Utah, but there are other considerations. For one thing, with Naqali out and Naikatini questionable, so we could be down both starters at lock. Stan South, when he’s not collecting yellow cards, is perfectily capable of managing the role. But the other replacements, Renaud and Beach, have yet to be truly tested.

That will be a key battle to win, as Seattle will have to leverage an advantage at the scrum to keep pace with Old Glory. With Mungo Mason out as well, they will likely try to create as much opportunity as possible in their forwards.

Health is also a concern in the backs. Jason Robertson is playing, but he might not be 100% with bruising on his leg. Furthermore, with Thomas Morani departing but Ciaran Hearn still injured, Doug Fraser will move to outside center with Mike Dabulas on the wing. Should Robertson have to bow out of the match at any point, the team will have to move Dabulas to flyhalf and bring in one of the rookies in on the wing. This shouldn’t be a disaster, but we’ve seen problems before when there are too many young backs on the field at once.

It’s worth noting here the split in the reserves. Usually, Old Glory has a 6-2 split, with six forwards on the bench and just two or three backs. For this match, though, they’ve opted for a 5-3 split. The extra back on the bench suggests that they expect to pull Robertson off at some point.

Overall, this should be Old Glory’s match to lose. They have been playing the better rugby all year, and combined with the home crowd and the long trip for their opponents, they should come away with it. That’s always a terrifying situation to be in, because they cannot afford to relax. Anything short of a bonus-point win will make it that much harder to come back in the crowded east conference.

Lineups

Old Glory DC

  1. Jamie Dever
  2. Mikey Sosnene-Feagai
  3. Steven Longwell
  4. Api Naikatini
  5. Stan South
  6. Luke Campbell
  7. Callum Gibbins
  8. Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz
  9. Danny Tusitala
  10. Jason Robertson
  11. Renata Roberts Te-Nana
  12. Thretton Palamo
  13. Doug Fraser
  14. Mike Dabulas
  15. Dylan Taikato-Simpson

Reserves:

  1. Max Lum
  2. Jack Iscaro
  3. Dante Lopresti
  4. Casey Renaud
  5. Josh Brown
  6. Danny Thomas
  7. Simi Moala
  8. D’Montae Noble

Seattle Seawolves

  1. Huluholo Mo’ungaloa
  2. James Malcolm
  3. Tim Metcher
  4. FP Pelser
  5. Samu Manoa
  6. Brad Tucker
  7. Andrew Durutalo
  8. Riekert Hattingh
  9. JP Smith
  10. AJ Alatimu
  11. Ross Neal
  12. Kieran Joyce
  13. Shalom Suniula
  14. Karsten Leitner
  15. Mat Turner

Reserves:

  1. Mike Shepherd
  2. Matt Duncan
  3. Jake Ilnicki
  4. Ben Landry
  5. Conor McGill
  6. Naulia Dawai
  7. Seta Tuilevuka
  8. Devereaux Ferris