Match Report: SaberCats vs. Utah Warriors
SaberCats – 29
Warriors – 27
As the curtain falls on the SaberCats’ time at Constellation Field, the tone couldn’t be any sweeter. In front of a crowd that included MLR Commissioner Dean Howes along with an assortment of league GM’s, Houston was able to secure their second win of the season over the Utah Warriors 29-27. They now move to 7th in the standings with ten points total.
There was something different about this game. It was a Thursday night, not a typical day of the week for rugby, but the air around the field was electric with anticipation as every player and personnel member donning black and yellow seemed to be thinking: “Tonight’s got to be the night.” And so it was.
While the ‘Cats never trailed in this one, the victory by no means came about easily. There were moments that exhilarated (Pat O’Toole’s long fumble recovery for a try), silenced (Gannon Moore’s line break for a try), or just plain shocked the crowd (Connor Murphy took a pretty big body slam).
Interestingly, for only the second time this season, the ‘Cats did not lead this game in territory advantage, managing only a 38% mark in that area. However, that metric balances out when you see their Gain Line Over percentage at a more than respectable 67%, meaning their efficiency in gaining ground last night was huge in the eventual victory.
That uptick in GLO is no surprise when you look at the ‘Cats top three ball carriers last night and the numbers they put up. Alejandro Nieto (82 meters, 8.2 MPC), Malacchi Esdale (63 meters, 15.75 MPC), and Zachary Pangelinan (62 meters, 10 MPC, 1 Try), were all over the field during the attack last night, showcasing the kind of talent this team has at every level on the field.
However, it has to be pointed out that if you truly want to talk about someone who was “all over the field” last night, Nieto has to ping the radar once again. The Uruguayan National completed 16 out of 16 tackles attempted (behind in total to Luke Beuchamp-18, Max Tackett-25), and was a major defensive force in helping to shut down any late game comeback attempts from the Warriors.
In the end, as it usually is with the ‘Cats, lots of credit has to be thrown the way of the guys in the set piece, as they won 100% of their own scrum put-ins (compared to only a 67% mark from Utah) along with 75% of their own lineouts (compared to Utah’s 69%). Those marks went a long way in keeping Utah on their back heel and limiting their opportunities to pull even, which thanks to the boot of Sam Windsor, became a point which got further and further away by the minute, and the mistake.
With this win, the ‘Cats will head into a bye-week, with their next opponent being the formidable Glendale Raptors.
Stream Match: Here
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