Steven Richardson/ESD
Two early tries set up bonus-point victory against winless Anthem
Jonny Richardson - June 09, 2024
Aggressive opening sets up five-point victory against winless Anthem - Everything San Diego

Right wing Filimoni Waqainabete opened the scoring in the third minute with a try. Left wing James Vaifale scored in the seventh minute. It was both of their first points of the season.

The Legion (9-4, 45 points), with uncharacteristically slow first halves to begin the year, looked like their former dominant self in the opening period against the still-winless Anthem Rugby Carolina (0-13, six points) in a 34-24 home victory, even without their big names like Blair Cowan, Matt Giteau and Ma’a Nonu.

“Obviously a different team out there today,” head coach Danny Lee said. “They gave us a chance to freshen up some guys knowing we have a pretty big three games ahead of us.”

Full-back Mikey Te’o, one of a few regulars who started the Sunday match, added on in the 32nd minute and fly-half Lincoln McClutchie scored his second conversion in three attempts to clinch the Legion’s highest-scoring first half this season. Their 12-point lead over Anthem at the half was also a season high.

The Legion averaged just eight points per game in the first half.

Inside center Tiaan Loots scored the bonus-point-clinching try in the 53rd minute and Vaifale provided the Legion’s first two-try match of the season for San Diego’s season-high-tying fifth try of the match.

Fly-half Josh Henderson made one of two conversion opportunities and his only penalty chance in replacement of McClutchie after the 50th minute.

Anthem made it close towards the end of the second half with two tries from Tomasi Alosio and left wing Te Rangatira Waitokia, but Henderson’s penalty kick gave the Legion the final say in the matter, taking back a two-possession, double-digit lead.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be perfect. We had a lot of new connections, new guys starting, a couple guys getting their first Legion cap, which was awesome,” Te’o said. “Thankfully we got a few points on the board, got four more tries and got the win, so that’s all that really matters.”

The Legion moved into a second-place tie in the MLR Western Conference with the Seattle Seawolves (8-4, 45 points), at least until the Seawolves play their 7 p.m. Sunday match against the Utah Warriors.

The top four teams in each conference advance to the playoffs with the top two teams hosting quarterfinal matches on July 20 or 21.

Up next: The Legion visit longtime Legion wing Nate Augspurger and the Chicago Hounds (5-6-1, 30 points) on Monday, June 17, at 5 p.m. PT (7 p.m. CT) for the final away match of the season.

Recent Legion News