HERRIMAN, Utah — The Utah Warriors came away victorious at home in a high-scoring 50-43 match against the Houston SaberCats, putting the Warriors at 3-3 for the season so far.
“I’m just really proud of the boys for sticking it out,” said Utah Warriors head coach Shawn Pittman. “Both teams scored a bunch of tries, and we’re just excited to finally get back on the winning side, 3-3.”
As the match began, Hagen Schulte attempted to kick the ball forward for the Warriors. However, Houston was able to block the kick and gain possession of the ball. The SaberCats scored a breakaway try for the first points of the game. After an unsuccessful conversion kick, the score sat at 0-5.
Three minutes later, the SaberCats scored another try between the posts, which counts as an automatic 7-points. Their lead advanced to 0-12.
After a successful scrum, wing Mikey Te’o had a strong run to land the Warriors just outside the try line. A series of passes landed the ball in Utah Warriors’ wing Joe Mano’s hands, who then ran the ball in. A successful conversion kick put the score at 12-7.
A few minutes later in the 11th-minute, Utah ended up with possession. A string of passes landed the ball in the hands of Mika Kruse along the right sideline. Kruse had a strong run and handed the ball off to Mikey Te’o before getting tackled. Te’o evaded Houston’s defense and ran the ball in for another try. Schulte’s kick allowed the Warriors to gain the lead, 14-12.
Shortly after, Houston took back the lead off of a penalty kick, 14-15.
The battle for the lead continued. In the 18th-minute, Utah found themselves with possession inside the 22 again. After a series of passes and punches toward the line, Te’o found a gap in Houston’s defense, making his way into the try zone. Schulte’s kick hit the post but was good, allowing the Warriors to take back the lead, 21-15.
From here, Utah’s momentum and control of the game only continued. Ratu Vugakoto was handed the ball after the scrum. He then made an impressive run with several SaberCats on his back. Once down, a passing series landed the ball out in the wing again where Kruse was able to run it into the try zone. After an unsuccessful conversion kick, the score advanced to 26-15.
In the 30th-minute, Houston finally answered back with their own try. A successful conversion kick brought the score to 26-22.
With a battle of possession, the Warriors kicked the ball toward the Houston 22. Houston was able to catch it and answered back with a kick themselves.
Te’o caught the ball and made a strong run, breaking a few of Houston’s tackles before getting taken to the ground. With strong passes and advancements toward the try zone by several of the Utah players, the ball again found its way into the hands of Te’o in the wing. Te’o passed it back in toward the field to Michael Baska, who dove in for 5. After the kick, the Warriors’ lead advanced to 33-22.
For the last few minutes of the first half, Houston made their way toward the try zone. A strong Warriors defense, however, kept them from scoring. This sent them into halftime with an 11-point lead, 33-22.
In the first few minutes of the second half, the Warriors were able to steal the ball from the SaberCats. After a strong series and a strong run by Vugakoto, Kruse was able to score his second try in the corner in the 43rd-minute. Schulte made an impressive conversion kick, bringing the score to 40-22.
Houston quickly answered back, scoring a try in the 45th-minute. A successful conversion kick brought the score to 40-29.
A back-and-forth battle for possession resulted with the ball ending up in the SaberCats’ hands, where they were able to score another try. After the kick, the score became 40-36.
The Warriors won a lineout just outside the try zone in the 59th-minute, and their maul was able to push the ball forward. Thomas Tu’avao put it down for the try, and Schulte’s successful conversion kick advanced the score to 47-36.
After a Warriors’ lineout win, Utah continued to show their strong passing game, making their way toward the try zone. An offside penalty on the SaberCats, however, allowed the Warriors to opt for a penalty kick. Schulte’s kick was good, bringing the score to 50-36.
A dropped pass by Utah in the 73rd-minute allowed Houston to gain possession and kick the ball. They won the chase into their try zone, adding 5-points to their score. After the successful conversion kick, the score became 50-43.
In the 77th-minute, Schulte attempted a penalty kick, but it was no good.
Houston had possession and a strong drive to the 22, as the game entered entry time. Utah’s defense showed out, continuously making tackles and keeping the SaberCats out of the try zone. After Houston failed to hold the ruck, Alex Tucci was able to poach the ball, turning over possession to the Warriors. Te’o then was able to run the ball out of play, ending the game with a Warriors win, 50-43.
“The SaberCats never gave up, and they really pushed us to our limits,” Tucci said. “But, we fought through, and we’re lucky enough to come away with the dub.”
Next weekend, the Warriors are on a bye week. However, the following weekend, they will play Old Glory at home on May 8. The match in Zions Bank Stadium will kick off at 8:00 p.m. MDT and will be broadcast live on KSLSports.com and by using the KSL TV App.