Utah Warriors Go 2-0 With Win In Home Opener
HERRIMAN, Utah — The Utah Warriors dominated over the Toronto Arrows in their first home match in almost two years, advancing their Major League Rugby (MLR) regular-season record to 2-0.
After several minutes of back and forth possession in the first half, the Warriors turned Toronto’s scrum in the seventh minute, awarding themselves a penalty kick. Hagen Schulte’s kick was good, scoring the Warriors their first three points.
After a penalty on Toronto in the 15th minute for having their hands in the ruck, the Warriors opted for another penalty kick. Schulte sent the ball through the posts, bringing the score to 6-0.
Fraser Hurst was subbed in at flyhalf in the 20th minute for Michael Baska, due to an injury. Shortly after, Toronto scored their first points in the 22nd minute off of a penalty kick, advancing the score to 6-3.
After a kick by Schulte landed the Warriors at the five-meter mark for their line out, Warriors hooker Sama Malolo punched it into the try zone with the help of his teammates. The conversion kick was good, bringing the score to 13-3.
Right before the end of the first half, a maul pushed Lance Williams into the try zone. The conversion was good, advancing the score to 20-3. During halftime, the Warriors announced their new panther mascot.
“The boys did really well in the first half,” said Utah Warriors head coach Shawn Pittman. “We dominated territory, and we played a really smart game. The boys are playing some good rugby. We need to keep dominating the territory and keep the attack with the variety of tempo we’re playing with, but I’m bloody excited.”
Early into the second half, Toronto attempted a penalty kick, but it was no good. The score remained at 20-3.
After an impressive series of passes and runs by the Warriors, a breakout run by Cliven Loubser set up Malolo for his second try of the night. An assist by Schulte allowed Malolo to crash through the Arrow defense. After a successful conversion kick, Utah advanced the score to 27-3.
“It’s been a long time coming, getting back home, so it was nice to get a good win,” Schulte said. “We’re going to keep going from here.”
In the 52nd and 54th minute, the Arrows scored back-to-back tries. With two successful conversion kicks, the score became 27-17, narrowing the Warriors’ lead to 10 points.
Mikey Te’o scored another Warriors try. A successful conversion kick brought the score to 34-17. Te’o then made a kick to the Toronto 22 and chased it down, pushing the Arrows player out of bounds. With a strong defensive effort, the Warriors were able to keep Toronto in their own territory.
A strong offensive showing by Toronto was foiled in the 68th minute, due to an offside penalty. This granted the Warriors possession. Scrum-half Fraser Hurst capitalized on the opportunity, making an approximate 60-meter breakaway run. He took it all the way to the try zone, and an unsuccessful conversion kick brought the score to 39-17.
A red card on Josh Whippy sent him to the sin bin in the 73rd minute, leaving Utah a man down for the remainder of the match. A yellow card on Sione Tau’ataina in the 77th minute put the Warriors down another man. After a strong battle from the Warriors defense to keep the Arrows out of the try zone, Toronto finally scored the last try of the game in the 79th minute. Their successful kick brought the final score to 39-24.
The Warriors will travel to Weymouth, Massachusetts next week to play the New England Free Jacks. The Saturday match will be broadcast on CBSSN. Viewers will be able to watch internationally on The Rugby Network, the MLR’s OTT platform.