King Of The North: Week 11
When I first set out to do this, my goal of crowning a King of the North each week was to highlight the performances of Major League Rugby’s top Canadian players. I have debated between spreading the wealth and trying to pick a new player each week or allowing for repeat winners. That debate ends this week as I crown the first two-time winner of the King of the North.
There was plenty of exciting action in week 11, but the match of the week was the titanic battle between the top teams in each conference. Rugby ATL’s defense shined as they handed the LA Giltinis just their 2nd loss of the year. A massive reason for RATL’s success in this match was the monstrous effort put forth by captain Matt Heaton!
Heaton was all over the pitch! In a game where RATL only had 36% of the possession, Heaton and the rest of the squad basically dared that famous LA attack to try and score. It was the league’s best defense vs the league’s best offense and Heaton’s side rose to the occasion. The saying is “defense wins championships” for a reason.
LA would run their attack, but carry after carry, Matt Heaton was there. Heaton made 16 tackles as part of a monumental effort from RATL as a whole. Heaton was also a force at the breakdown. He was a constant presence that truly helped slow down the typically fast paced LA attack. Ultimately, Heaton led his team to one of the best defensive performances the MLR has seen.
For that, he becomes not only the first two-time winner of the King of the North crown, but the first back-to-back recipient as well.
For the first few honourable mentions we will stick with the same match. Connor Keys came off the bench in the second half, played well, and had a brilliant counter ruck to create the turnover that ultimately sealed the victory for Rugby ATL. On the other side of the ball, DTH van der Merwe did actually manage to crack that defense as he continued to be on a torrid try scoring pace.
Josh Larsen turned in an epic performance of his own as the New England Free Jacks defeated the Toronto Arrows to remain undefeated at home. Austin’s Cole Davis and Toronto’s Adrian Wadden both picked up their first MLR tries! Finally, a big shout out and congratulations to every player named to the long-list for Rugby Canada’s summer tests.
As always, you can watch every try scored by a Canadian this week below!
Kings of the North 2021:
Week 1- DTH van der Merwe (LA) Week 2- Fraser Hurst (UTAH) Week 3- Lucas Rumball (TOR) Week 4- Corey Thomas (LA) Week 5- Ross Braude (TOR) Week 6- Ben LeSage (TOR) Week 7- Lachlan Kratz (NOLA) Week 8- Josh Larsen (NEFJ) Week 9- Michael Smith (SDL) Week 10- Matt Heaton (RATL) Week 11- Matt Heaton (RATL)