HERRIMAN, Utah – The Utah Warriors are back in action this Saturday, May 8, following the bye week as the team gears up to host Old Glory DC at Zions Bank Stadium.
Saturday’s match will mark the first time that Utah and DC have faced off since Old Glory joined Major League Rugby after a scheduled meeting on May 3, 2020, was canceled as a result of the Covid-19 virus.
Coming off a 47-17 loss in Los Angeles last week, DC, led by fly-half Danny Tusitala, enters this week with a record of 2-3-1 as Old Glory currently sits in last place in a tightly contested Eastern Conference with 13 points.
“Old Gory is a very strong side, and they pose a lot of challenges for us defensively and on attack,” said Warriors Head Coach Shawn Pittman. “We’ve created some specific game plans to hopefully eliminate some of the line speed we’ll see on attack. Defensively we’ve worked really hard on reloading and getting into the right position quicker. The guys are in amazing spirits after their week-off and over the week have shown some really good intentions going into the game this weekend.”
Utah enters the match holding strong in third place in the Western Conference with a 3-3 record and 19 points, just two points behind Austin for second place in the West. The Warriors, coming off a bye week, look to build on their thrilling 50-43 victory over the SaberCats on April 24.
“As a group, we really want to back up that win vs Houston in front of an awesome home crowd against a solid DC team,” said Utah Assistant Coach Shaun Davies. “The guys have been playing some really good rugby at times but the challenge for this weekend is to limit those mental lapses that have been hurting us and allowing the opposition straight back into the game.”
One player that coaches hope can help the Warriors in these next 10 matches is Derek Ellingson, the third overall pick in the 2020 MLR Draft. Ellingson has earned a spot on the active game-day roster for the fourth straight match and looks to continue to break into the Warriors’ rotation after making his debut against Houston, playing 14 minutes in the victory.
“Derek did a job for us last week, coming in for the last block of the game and playing out of position in the back row was a big ask but he made a massive impact during the game and he deserves a ton of credit for his performance,” Pittman said. “This week will be awesome seeing him play in his primary position and Shaun and myself are excited to see the impacts he makes during his time on the field.”
The Warriors, led by co-captains Mikey Te’o and Bailey Wilson, are hoping to continue the team’s success on the offensive side of the ball. Through the first seven weeks of the season, Utah has scored the third-most points of any team in Major League Rugby, putting 184 points on the board in six games.
“Right now, on average, we have the second-highest points scored per game and third highest-scoring offense in total which is down to the effort the guys have put in at training really understanding the detail of what we’re trying to do in attack,” said Davies. “The great thing is that there is so much room for improvement, once it clicks and everyone is on the same page with the same mentality of finding the space with a high level of skills, I’ll be a very happy man.”
Utah Warriors vs. Old Glory DC
Date: Saturday, May 8
Time: 8:00 p.m. (MDT)
Where: Zions Bank Stadium (Herriman, UT)
Radio: 700 AM and 960 AM