Match Report: SaberCats vs. Glendale Raptors
SaberCats – 44
Raptors – 52
A night that looked as if it would end in sweet victory ended only in disappointment, as the SaberCats fell to The Glendale Raptors 52-44. The Cats’ went into halftime with a 32-14 lead, before surrendering 38 points in the second half while only managing 12 points of their own.
Before the late game struggles, the ‘Cats were playing perhaps the best rugby that they had all season, victories included. Two early penalty tries put them up 14-nil to begin the match, and thanks perhaps to that extra cushion of points, the team appeared to be playing looser and more freely than usual. They executed well of the cuff, saw success in both the short and wide passing game, and forced turnovers and penalties in the defensive phases. And the Cats’ scrum was absolutely dominant.
Both Kelly Kolberg and Malacchi Esdale would secure tries in the first 40 minutes, however, the Raptors showed they were not going to go away without a fight and before the halftime horn sounded at Infinity Park – John ‘Muscles’ Ryberg, Glendale’s ultra-explosive wing and mid-season MVP Candidate, would force his way over for two consecutive tries at the 35th and 39th minutes. The momentum created from those scores would carry over into the second half, with Glendale putting down two more in-goal before Houston’s Deion Mikesell could answer with one of his own in his debut MLR appearance.
As the second half’s minutes waned, Houston held onto a slim lead, the Cats’ defense continued to make tackle after tackle in an attempt to preserve the victory. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be on this Saturday night in Colorado, as Malon Al-Jiboori would score to give Glendale the lead, and another one from Harley Davidson would all but put it away.
While the way this one unfolded is never what you want to see as a fan, player, or coach, it’s an objective observation that the SaberCats have improved in nearly every area of their game since the season’s kick-off. Their line speed is miles ahead of where it was, their defensive shifts are much quicker and aggressive, and their scrum is still one of the most feared and prepared for units in the country.
Meanwhile, both new and old playmakers are making noise in these recent contests with Sam Windsor putting up 15 total points against Glendale and newcomer Kelly Kolberg from the Dallas Reds RFC proving himself worthy of his roster spot, showing off his speed and field awareness on the way to securing two tries on the season thus far. And of course, fresh off the new-signee line is Deion Mikesell, who along with getting his first MLR points this weekend, also showed off how effective of a weapon he can be with the ball in hand at mid-field.
Now, at the team’s official midpoint of the season, it’s all about how the SaberCats respond from here. This Saturday’s match against the Seattle Seawolves in the new AVEVA Stadium will help to answer that. Get your tickets and come on out to see for yourself.
By Liam Poach
Fulltime Seattle Seawolves -52 SaberCats - 12 By Liam Poach The
(Houston Chronicle) A week before the opening of AVEVA Stadium, construction workers were sweeping
Salt Lake City, Utah; April 11, 2019: Major League Rugby today announced a
The inaugural game at the AVEVA Stadium grounds is set to kick