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Utah Rugby: Warriors fall to Seawolves on the road

By Staff | Jun 5, 2023

Courtesy Photo

The Utah Warriors and the Seattle Seawolves batted in a Major League Rugby matchup on Sunday, June 4, 2023.

SEATTLE — Traveling to take on the Seattle Seawolves is rarely an easy task, and Sunday night proved as much for the Utah Warriors in taking a tough 27-20 loss.

Too many missed opportunities, an unfortunate yellow card issued early in the second half and some early scores yielded conspired in Utah gaining just one point as it battles to make the postseason.

“Seattle defended really well,” said Utah Warriors coach Greg Cooper. “We didn’t get to the edge quite like we wanted, and that caused some issues. We weren’t able to break their defense, so it was a hard day, and I think it could have gone either way, but we weren’t just accurate enough.”

Seattle started the scoring off in the 5th minute, handing Utah a 7-0 deficit early.

As the Warriors have done so often this season, however, they responded, this time in the 18th minute when team captain Bailey Wilson touched the ball down in the try zone, cutting the lead to 7-5. Wilson received an assist from Joe Mano following a well-placed kick off the foot of Joel Hodgson.

The Seawolves then responded shortly after the water break with a try to extend the lead to 14-5 before Utah finished off the half with a penalty kick and a try of its own to lead 15-14 into the break. Finishing off the first half in style was Mano scoring the try off an assist from Caleb Makene.

“We were feeling very good and confident at the half,” Cooper said.

Seven minutes into the second half, however, saw Mika Kruse get issued a yellow card, which perhaps took at least some of the momentum away, having to play a man down for 10 crucial minutes.

“Having Mika out — you’re always going to be less potent on the edge,” Cooper said. “If you can get there you can perhaps break them down and cause some issues.”

Seattle put two penalty kicks on the board to take a 20-15 lead before tacking on a try in the 73rd minute to take a commanding 27-15 margin.

But instead of packing it in, Utah honed in from there in an attempt to cut the lead to seven or less and gain what could prove a crucial bonus point. Its efforts paid off in the 79th minute when Mano touched the ball down off an assist from Zion Going to cut the lead to 27-20.

Seattle then staged a furious offensive possession right near the try line, although Utah was able to withstand all of it in securing that crucial one point.

“We talk about Utah-built and I think we showed that at the end — a lot of courage,” Cooper said. “There were a lot of positives in this game, although the result wasn’t positive…I’m really proud of how we showed at the end there.”

With the loss, Utah falls to four points behind third-place Houston in the battle for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference despite beating the SaberCats on both occasions this season. It puts the Warriors in a tough position with just two rounds remaining in the regular season although overcoming the deficit certainly isn’t impossible.

“Getting one point is disappointing, but there’s still 160 minutes to go,” Cooper said. “…Our job at hand is now to focus on Chicago. We get a win there and then go to New York and then see how it turns out. That one point is not what we wanted, but it could come in handy.”


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