Match Preview – SaberCats v. SD Legion 02.09.19
SaberCats Two weeks ago, the Houston SaberCats opened their season on the road with a win against the Austin
Elite. Now, with a week of rest under their belts, the team will look to carry that momentum a bit
further west, when they travel to San Diego for a week three Major League Rugby showdown.
While the ‘Cats will be aiming to remain undefeated, the Legion will be trying to prevent falling to a
losing record at 1-2, after dropping their opener against Rugby United New York before following it up
with a victory over the Seattle SeaWolves. Therefore, we can expect to see a hard-fought bout in which
either side will be trying to ensure their year gets off to a proper start.
So, without further ado, let’s break this matchup down:
In the Scrum:
The Saber-scrum is currently the crown jewel of this organization, owning the team’s best amount of
depth along with players who play the game intelligently and without sacrificing a shred of tenacity. If
you want proof, look no further than the all-Irish front row of Jamie Dever, Pat O’Toole, and Charlie
Connolly, who not only present an intimidating front to their opponents but can be just as effective
with the ball in hand. In fact, Dever found himself tied at second for Ball Carries in the game against
Austin with 8, just behind Connor Mills (10). However, as it is with most forwards, the defensive element they bring can often be the difference between a win and a loss. That sentiment correlates well with last Saturday’s result, as Luke Beauchamp
(Lock) and O’Toole (Hooker) led the team with 18 and 14 tackles respectively that match as well.
Heading into this week, the team will need a repeat performance, and perhaps even then some to
contain the high-flying potential of San Diego’s attack which last week was able to spring a few leaks in
the dreaded Seattle ‘Sea Wall’.
In the Back:
The victory against Austin to begin the season would not have come had it not been for the boot of Sam
Windsor, who as well all know by now, put up 21 points kicking in week 1 to lift his team over the
slightly favored Elite. Hopefully, this week, not so much of the pressure will fall upon the former Ulster
standout’s shoulders. But, at least we know he has the leg to handle it should we need him to!
However, in a game that will hopefully be under dryer conditions than the opener (or San Diego’s game
last week against Seattle), the SaberCats will have plenty of options in the backline to excite the fans at
home. First, if all goes according to plan, we should be seeing the return of the Flying-Fijian duo of Osea
Kolinisau and Josua Vici, who never fail to make a defender second guess themselves and can provide
just as steady an impact on defense as well. While San Diego has been known as a team who can match power and speed with the best of them, Houston can aptly respond in the same manner with the likes of Conor Mills, Malacchi Esdale, and Zach
Pangelinan. Two weeks ago, the trio lit up the stat sheets at Austin when it came to Carries and Meters
gained. Mills and Pangelinan were neck and neck at 60 and 59 MG apiece, while Esdale put some truly
spectacular and physical runs on display with 8 total carries, tying for second on the team.
If their chemistry continues to build, and under more player-friendly conditions, there’s every reason to
expect an even better performance. Let’s hope that does indeed come to fruition this Saturday.
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A match-up of Texas-sized proportions is set to get underway this Saturday