By Liam Poach
For the first time this season, I got to attend a live MLR match between the home team Houston SaberCats and the visiting Utah Warriors. If there was anything more daunting than the on-field officiating, it was the intense humidity that just seemed to scream at me “How bad does Vermont’s weather seem now?”
The game started out on a high note for the South Texas squad, putting up a 10-0 lead within the first fifteen minutes of the match. However, Utah would answer the call with two unanswered scores (both converted tries) in which their ball carriers seemed to burst through the SaberCat defense uncontested. Bad officiating doesn’t cause that, I’ll admit.
However, what bad officiating does cause is an abundance of lost chances at possession and scoring opportunities. When they were given the chance, Houston’s scrum was cohesive with a great initial push, allowing Connor Murphy to get the ball out quickly to the likes of Josua Vici, who had himself a WICKED great game capped off by a Sam Windsor-assisted try in the corner. On top of a ton of try saving tackles throughout the game, is there anything this freakish athlete can’t do?
Utah, meanwhile, showed once again that they’re a team that continues to improve week by week. Kurt Morath led the team with 19 total points, however, his success kicking from the tee was overshadowed by Sam Windsor’s 50 METER kick that sailed directly through the uprights. For those keeping score at home, this is his second such kick, having hit one earlier Houston’s exhibition season.
Nicholls still doesn’t impress me all that much at the number 9 spot. I think compared to a lot of other Scrum-halves in the league, he’s slow in getting to the ruck, and his ball spin at times is pretty shaky. In a Blake Bortles-esq fashion, he tends to get a lot of help from ball carriers like Paul Lasike and Tonata Lauti when it comes to the teams’ successes.
But, where credit is due, you have to give it. Utah didn’t blink after loose head-prop Alex Tucci received a yellow card, instead fighting through the heat and some rib-crunching tackles to pull ahead 36-30 in the dying minutes, after a plethora of slim leads had been exchanged by either side. And yes, Nicholls was part of that.
Houston did well to cut down on some of the unforced errors that plagued them last week, and especially in the lineouts where they were able to steal a few of Utah’s throw-ins. But, even with some questionable calls in the scrum, a knock on is a knock on, and some errant passes on their part can’t be overlooked as part of this team’s ultimate downfall after a promising exhibition season.
As for the Warriors, they now sit in third place, just behind the Seattle Seawolves as the real playoff push begins. Now that they’re finally starting to establish some rhythm on offense and becoming passable in the scrum, they very well could shock the USA Rugby world with a top three finish.
Houston, meanwhile, has two upcoming matches against Seattle AND Glendale, with a .500 record now their best hope for a spot in the final four. Luckily, they will be largely unaffected by the June-test window, while Glendale looks to be among the most affected.
Is this enough of an article? My checkout is in a half hour and my room still looks my old freshman year dorm.
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Penguin Tundra Sports Blog was created in 2016 by a very bored college student who was obsessed with Rugby and Football. That same college student knew how to write pseudo-intelligently, so what better way to show off than to create a blog. Along your journey though the Tundra's domain, you may come across outlandish opinions, horrible spelling errors, and some shit that is just outright wrong. Well then, you should comment, give my blog more attention, and we will have our day in internet court. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy talking about sports as much as I do.
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