By Liam Poach
Utah Warriors: 80
Prairie WolfPack: 12
The final game of the first ever Major League Rugby pre-season came to a sad conclusion Friday night, as Utah Warrior Josh Whippy went down with an injury that necessitated him being taken off the field on a stretcher. The extent of the injury is not yet known.
Even with the bitter sweet end (Final score Utah 80, Prairie 12), this Utah squad can take solace in the way they got this victory, which was by displaying the physical nature on both sides of the ball that could make them a contender come the playoff push. The Whippy brothers alone combined for SIX tries on the evening.
Whenever the Warriors seemed to be on the same page, boy, could they FLY up the field! And, I’m not just talking speed, players like Alex Tucci and Paul Lasike looked like runaway 18-wheelers on a downward slope the way they carried the ball at times.
But, despite the crazy frenzy of scoring that the final score would imply (which believe me, there was), it wasn’t all perfect for Utah. Their discipline in the first half was garbage, with a litany of penalties for high and dangerous tackles setting them back many meters, along with earning them a yellow card and a red card respectively.
If these sort of breakdowns in discipline continue to happen, better teams WILL take advantage of it. Not to mention some questionable decisions by the Warriors when it came to passing deep in their own territory.
This win must also be taken into perspective. As Bryan Ray wanted to make clear on Twitter, this was a Wolfpack team that was missing many key players, and instead opted to field a much younger unit that needed the minutes. And yet they still put up 12 points against a professional squad, along with some impressive phases in the passing game as well as the scrum.
However, I don’t want to take anything away from this Utah team, because they really did play well tonight. Especially the Whippy brothers, who unfortunately suffered the loss of a close family member just a day before the match. It should be noted the Jared Whippy really came through in the kicking game, making 8 out of his 10 conversion attempts.
If Utah can bring the best of this game with them into the season, they could be a squad that nobody will be looking forward to play. However, unless they fix their problem with penalties and the scrum, they could find themselves in a frustrating rut pretty quick.
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