Match Report SaberCats vs. Utah Warriors 6.1.19
In their last game of the season, the Houston SaberCats were able to hold off a second-half rally by the Utah Warriors on the way to claiming a 31-27 victory. The win was the team’s fourth in a row, allowing the ‘Cats to finish out the season with a 6-10 record and 30 total points. Matthew Trouville, in the final match of his career, was named the team’s Man of the Match.
While there was an unshakable sense of confidence heading into Zions Bank Stadium for the visiting SaberCats, not a soul believed this was going to be anything other than a hard-fought contest. Only a week before, The Warriors had played the defending champion Seattle Seawolves to a draw and were now looking to finish their own disappointing campaign on a high note.
Not to mention, the ‘Cats were at a slight physical disadvantage to begin with, having already played a total of two games in less than a week (both victories against Austin and Glendale). If they were going to go the full 80 minutes with one of the fastest teams in Major League Rugby, then they were going to have to dig down deep.
And down deep they did dig.
The first half featured plenty of moments that sent shockwaves of silence across the crowd of Warrior-faithful, mainly out of the scrum, from which the ‘Cats Jameson Schultz and Malacchi Esdale were both able to secure tries in the first half. However, the play and confidence of Scrumhalf Connor Murphy was a major factor through this game’s first 40 minutes, playing mostly mistake-free rugby while putting his receivers into the best position to find space. While the one they call ‘Toad’ has never been known for his calm demeanor on the field, Saturday he played with visible aggression that was mirrored by his teammates on the attack and defense.
The second half came around, and the ‘Cats began to hit a few bumps in the road. Utah was able to secure 14 unanswered points to begin the second frame, before eventually pulling ahead by three with under 20 minutes to go thanks to a frantic pace that challenged Houston’s defensive transitions. However, just when it seemed as if the ‘Cats were going to let another near victory slip through their fingers, a quick kick and go by Murphy deep inside Warrior territory was corralled by Windsor for what would be the game-winning try.
While the passing game may not have been as explosive as it was against Glendale and Austin, the defense stepped it up in moments when it really counted especially when backed up inside the 22. They forced Utah to expend valuable energy, and most importantly time, constantly recycling and rucking in order to gain meaningful ground.
Enough can’t be said about the set piece either. Two lineout steals in the first half set the tone for a facet of the game in which the ‘Cats were able to consistently perform well. Not only did their patterns work well in the starter plays, but they also forced a number of mistakes on Utah’s part, especially when the Warriors seemed to be in scoring position.
While one may look at this end-of-the-year winning streak and wonder “What might’ve been”, there is no doubt the 2020 season is looking a whole lot brighter than it was even six weeks ago. While nobody can ever be sure of what the future holds, one thing is certain: Rugby is here to stay, Houston.
By Liam Poach
Photos: George Manu with USMLR
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HOUSTON SABERCATS NAME NEW PRESIDENT The Houston SaberCats are pleased to announce
In their last game of the season, the Houston SaberCats were able
The last home game of the season, as well as the official
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