Undefeated battle: SaberCats prepping for San Diego Legion
By Aaron Wilson
Standing outside the SaberCats’ locker room following an impressive victory over the Nola Gold, veteran director Heyneke Meyer quickly shifted his focus to the next challenge.
The SaberCats’ undefeated status is on the line in what amounts to an early litmus test of sorts Sunday afternoon against the 2-0 San Diego Legion at SaberCats Stadium.
Both of the 2-0 SaberCats’ next two opponents — the Legion and the Seattle Seawolves — haven’t lost a match.
The SaberCats’ encouraging start has built momentum and confidence. Now, they have to continue improving and should face a difficult test against the Legion.
“San Diego is going to be very, very tough,” Meyer said. “The next two games are going to be very, very tough, probably the best teams in our conference. It’s going to be very tough against San Diego. Last year, they beat us. They’ve got a lot of experience with a very experienced side. They look very fit. It’s going to be a huge game.”
The Legion are coming off a win over the New England Free Jacks and have not trailed any opponent this season.
Legion player Nate Augspurger scored two tries against New England, including a late try in the 85th minute confirmed by review. That gave them the required four tries to earn a bonus point given to a team that wins a match and also scores four tries.
The SaberCats and the Legion are the only two Major League Rugby teams to earn a bonus point in both of the opening rounds of the regular season.
This match provides an opportunity for the SaberCats to have a measuring stick of their skills.
“We’ll know more about who we are,” Meyer said. “We’re proud of the guys. Next week will be a good test to test your depth.”
Led by team captain Danny Barrett and vice captain Christian Dyer, the speed of Dominic Akina and the open-field abilities of Gideon van Wyk, the SaberCats are off to an encouraging start.
The Legion is their next challenge.
“We’ve got to prepare,” prop Pono Davis said. “We’ll take it and keep digging in.”
Of course, the SaberCats aren’t resting on their laurels. They’re thinking about the bigger picture.
And that starts with competing with and working to beat tough competitors like the Legion.
“There’s a lot we can work on,” Gerrie Labuschagne‘ said. “One-hundred percent, it’s always important to be humble and keep working. Always stay grounded and, as we always say, keep our feet on the ground, eyes up and keep your eyes forward.”
The SaberCats are confident in their culture and the talent on the roster.
It’s a matter of building on it after going 9-7 last season and earning the first playoff berth in franchise history. They’ve outscored the Jackals and Gold by a combined margin of 68-26.
“It can get better,” Dyer said. “We’ll try to right our wrongs and figure out why things went wrong.We take it game by game and next week is now our focus. It’s still early in the season, but it’s an encouraging start.
“I think we’re building a foundation. I think we’re far from peaking. We’re far away from our potential, which, on the one hand, is amazing, which, on the other hand, we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve just got to stay grounded and come to work every single day.”
And that approach sounds like a strong formula for sustained success.
*Photos by BigShots SnapShots
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