Match Preview: Houston SaberCats vs. Glendale Raptors
There’s a renewed sense of optimism within the walls of the SaberCat offices on Westheimer Road. After the team’s most recent victory over the Utah Warriors, the squad will be heading to Colorado for this weekend’s clash with the Glendale Raptors having a newfound degree of intensity and focus that has yet to be matched thus far.
For each of these teams, the midpoint of the season has come with a renewed set of goals heading into the second leg of the schedule: For Glendale, now is the time to try and rack up the bonus points and solidify their place in the postseason, especially after their upset over the NOLA Gold this past weekend. For Houston, it will be about fighting their way back to at least .500 and then go from there.
Despite the loss of Josua Vici to suspension, the SaberCats are poised to fill in at least part of his production nicely, as evidenced by their victory over Utah two weeks ago. Not only is Dallas native Kelly Kolberg proving effective, but the ‘Cats have recently signed back and capped Eagle Deion Mikesell, who’s coming in off a four-month appearance with Clermont Academy. Deion has been practicing with the squad all this week and looks to be on track with learning the system.
However, as dangerous as the likes of Esdale, Kolinisau, and Mikesell can be, Glendale will have its answer in the forms of Mika Kruse, John Ryberg, and Harley Davidson, the latter two of whom are among the top try scorers in the league with six and five respectively. That’s a lot of explosion on the outside, and Defense Coach Neil Kelly will be tasked with preparing the team for such a challenge.
In the set piece, the ‘Cats saw a decent amount of success against the Warriors, winning 100% of their scrums along with 75% of their own lineout throw-ins. This will be a crucial matchup with the Raptors after Glendale saw 100% in both categories against NOLA last weekend, but the ‘Cats thus far have been lauded for the performance of their forwards this season and should fare well against the favored home side.
This game will mark the halfway point for the SaberCats this season. While it may have been a slow start, hope springs eternal in the Bayou City for the team clad in Black and Yellow to make a late playoff push if it can put all of its potential together.
By Liam Poach
Photo Credit: BigShotSnapshots Media
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