Match Report: SaberCats vs. Seattle Seawolves
Seattle Seawolves -27
SaberCats – 14
By Liam Poach
On Sunday, the SaberCats traveled to the Pacific Northwest to take on the defending MLR Champions, the Seattle SeaWolves. Despite a hard-fought effort, the ‘Cats suffered their fourth straight loss of the season with a final score of 27-14.
In the first half, the visiting Houston squad was able to raise a number of eyebrows within Starfire Stadium, as well as those watching at home, as they rebounded from an early 3-0 deficit to score the first try of the game by way of a Josua Vici offload to Osea Kolinisau. That paydirt was closely followed by a number of series in which the SaberCats were able to hold the attacking Seattle squad at bay while backed up against their own try line, eventually forcing a few mistakes by the home side to take back possession on a number of occasions.
In the passing game, the SaberCats looked more in-sync with one another than they had all season, as they consistently picked up meters through a number of tight-window inside passes and more than a few chancy offloads. Josua Vici, in particular, was exceptional with the ball in hand, forcing Seattle to commit two, even as many as three players to bring him down, which in turn opened up holes for his teammates in support.
Unfortunately, the ‘Cats ultimately came up short in terms of total possession (41%), and that was their downfall. Seattle’s superb ball retention in the second half ate up the clock while limiting scoring opportunities for Houston, as well as forcing them to expend tons of energy making tackles and contesting the breakdown.
Despite the result, this game held many more positives when compared to other games this season. First of which was the aforementioned chemistry in the passing game, which has gotten results from not just the backs, but many of the forwards as well.
Jamie Dever (Prop) for example has now gone four games in a row with at least 6 carries and has been a consistent point of focus for opposing teams’ defense. The ‘Cats has also continued their steady improvement in the Territory game, finishing Sunday night with a 61% advantage.
Perhaps most of all, however, is the performance of the defense. In many instances, they adhered to the age-old mantra of ‘Bend, Don’t Break’, especially when deep in their own zone. The addition of Defense Coach Neil Kelly has certainly done wonders for this squad.
Going forward, the ‘Cats will need to find a way to ensure that their offensive and defensive phases remain consistent and productive through all 80 minutes. If they can bring the same level of execution and intensity that we saw in the first half on Sunday, then there will be no stopping this team in the matches to come.
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