Warriors Drop Pre-Season Tilt To Rugby ATL
HERRIMAN, Utah – The Utah Warriors squared off against Major League Rugby (MLR) Eastern Conference foe Rugby ATL this afternoon in a pre-season tilt with the Rattlers edging the Warriors 15-13.
“For a pre-season game this is exactly what we needed,” said Warriors Interim Head Coach Shawn Pittman, “Although we didn’t get the win, we saw some good rugby and learned some good lessons by facing what will likely be one of the MLR’s top teams. So all in all, I’m happy now knowing what things we need to tighten up. and improve before the season starts.”
The battle started pretty intensely with ATL putting some early pressure on the Warriors’ defensive line deep in the home team’s half. The Warriors would hold however and rookie flyhalf Danny Giannascoli would clear the Warriors’ defensive pressure after making an 80-meter net kick.
With the change in field position, the Warriors’ set-piece would garner the reward with the Utah scrum winning a penalty try in 14th minute.
But a series of first-half untimely turnovers and other miscues deep inside the ATL defensive half by the Warriors attack would take away from any possible momentum and pressure that had been built up.
In the end, both sides would battle deep inside the other’s half but the lone score came just at halftime with Giannascoli slotting a 30-meter penalty goal to edge the Warriors further ahead 10-0 at the break.
The second half saw ATL find some scoring opportunities with the wind now at their back scoring tries in the 54th and 66th minutes respectively. The former try’s conversion was blocked however by the Warriors’ fullback Mikey Te’o giving ATL a net of 12 points.
Another second-half penalty goal by Giannascoli kept the Warriors ahead 13-12 entering the final 10 minutes.
A late penalty goal from ATL in the 72nd would eventually close out the scoring despite the Warriors’ late charge deep inside their opponent’s half just before the full-time whistle.
The final score leaning in favor of Rugby ATL 15-13.
“We had our chances I’d say,” said assistant coach Shaun Davies, “But we just couldn’t close them out when we did. But that’s why we have these games to knock off the rust and get the things fixed that need fixing before the season begins. Very excited about the work we have ahead.”
The Warriors now turn their full attention to the start of the 2021 MLR season where they will take on Western Conference rival Austin Gilgronis at Bold Stadium in Austin, TX on March 20th at 6pm MT.
The Warriors will kick the 2021 MLR home schedule on March 27th at 7pm MT as they host Eastern Conference foe the Toronto Arrows. Currently tickets are sold out for this season-opener due to limited seating capacity, but fans can get on the Warriors “Can’t Wait List” by visiting www.WarriorsRugby.com.