Match Report SaberCats vs. Glendale Raptors 5.29.19
The last home game of the season, as well as the official Grand Opening of Aveva Stadium, could not have gone any better Wednesday night, as the Houston SaberCats (5-10) got the victory over last year’s runners up The Glendale Raptors (7-7-2) with a final score of 32-17. Josua Vici was named Houston’s Man of the Match.
Both teams came into this game on a short week with nothing to lose . After the past weekend, Houston was coming off a victory over their in-state rivals The Austin Elite, while the Raptors had just been officially knocked out of playoff contention after falling to the Toronto Arrows.
The game played out, at first, in brazing back and forth manner, that saw Houston take an early lead off the boot of Sam Windsor, only to have it snatched away (as so many others have) by Harley Davidson as he scored his 12th try of the season. However, fans in attendance would see the tide begin to turn before the first half was concluded, as Jamie Dever and Sam Windsor would eventually find the in-goal for tries of their own.
Some clean execution in the first half (both offensively and defensively) and some tricky pattern play out of the set pieces consistently had the SaberCats on the front foot, putting pressure on the Glendale defense. And while the second half saw a flurry of sustained Raptor-possessions, the ‘Cats still continued to operate within an efficient, yet at times high-octane game plan that tested the visitors at every turn.
However, it can’t be over-looked that a huge factor in the attack’s effectiveness tonight was the cutdown in turnovers (only 9 compared to Glendale’s 16), which allowed the offense to operate comfortably, as well as giving plenty of chances to playmakers like, oh… I don’t know… Josua Vici (124 meters, 9 carries, 1 try)
Meanwhile, the defense stayed aggressive, almost never failing to contest in the ruck on the way to forcing 16 turnovers and a steal in the breakdown. While they couldn’t prevent tries from MLR- Stars Dylan Simpson and Harley Davidson, they were still able to keep a team that normally wouldn’t blink after gaining 1,000 meters in a game to under 5 meters-per-pass (MPP). Meanwhile, our offense managed to rack up a respectable MPP of 6.3, after averaging just under 5 themselves this whole season.
While a victory over the once-mighty Glendale Raptors may be a feather in the cap of a team that’s seen their fair share of hard time this season, there is precious little time to celebrate. The SaberCats will be kicking off the final regular season weekend of 2019 on Saturday, as they take on the Utah Warriors on the road. The game will be featured on CBS Sports Net.
By Liam Poach
Photos: BigShotsSnapShots Media
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