Warriors Complete Thrilling Comeback Against Seattle
TUKWILA, Wash. — The Utah Warriors completed a thrilling come from behind victory in the final seconds over the two-time MLR Champion Seattle Seawolves on Sunday night, 29-28.
Utah got things going quickly to start the match as Franco van den Berg was able to power his way into the try zone to give the Warriors an early 7-0 lead after a Calvin Whiting conversion.
Seattle was able to answer with a try of their own by Riekert Hattingh in the 17th-minute to knot things up at 7 apiece at the first water break.
Immediately following the water break, Warriors Captain Bailey Wilson took a lineout and rushed into the try zone for the second consecutive week to retake the lead for Utah, 12-7.
A strong Seattle offense gave the Seawolves the quick response, however, as a Ross Neal try gave Seattle their first lead of the game, 14-12, in the 30th minute of action. The Seattle attack didn’t stop there as a Utah turnover resulted in a Seattle scrum at the 5-meter line, leading to a try by Naulia Dawai, giving the Seawolves the 21-12 lead.
A penalty goal by Utah’s Calvin Whiting to end the first half narrowed the Seattle lead to 21-15 at the break.
“We struggled late in the second part of the first-half when it came to territory,” said Utah Warriors Head Coach Shawn Pittman. “They pinned us deep and forced us to try and play out of our own half which was a struggle and caused us to have a few errors that cost us tries.”
Seattle got the scoring underway in the second half as Neal added his second try of the game to put the Seawolves ahead 28-15 at the second-half water break.
“With the second-half water break and having our guerrilla squad come on, we had a very upbeat and positive attitude on the sideline,” said Pittman. “We knew that when it came down to it, we have a better bench and they would win the game for us.”
The Utah offense came to life in the second-half, following the water break, with a try by Jurie Van Vuuren, his third of the season, to make it a one-score game, 28-22, in the 59th minute.
With the game hanging in the balance, the Seawolves failed to convert on a penalty goal in the 76th minute with Seattle holding on to a 6-point lead, giving the Warriors a chance to complete the comeback in the final minutes.
In the ensuing minutes, Utah advanced the ball deep into Seattle territory. With time added to the clock, Seattle-native Olive Kilifi powered his way into the try zone to cut the Seattle lead to 28-27 with the conversion kick pending. Fly-half Calvin Whiting calmly approached the ball and sent it through the uprights to give Utah the 29-28 win on the final play of the game.
“Emotions were running high following the try from Olive and the conversion by Calvin,” said Pittman. “We really needed that win and the boys will take confidence from the way we won and hopefully we can continue to build momentum heading into the next match.”
With the victory, the Warriors continue to hold sole possession of second-place in the Major League Rugby Western Division standings with a 6-5 record and 36 table points.
The Warriors now turn their attention to a home match against the San Diego Legion Saturday, June 12 at Zions Bank Stadium. That game will kick-off at 7:00 PM MT and will be broadcast on KSL TV app, KSLSports.com and the Rugby Network.
02’ — Franco van den Berg Try, Conversion is good — Utah 7, Seattle 0
17’ — Riekert Hattingh Try — Utah 7, Seattle 7
22’ — Bailey Wilson Try, Conversion is no good — Utah 12, Seattle 7
30’ — Ross Neal Try, Conversion is good — Utah 12, Seattle 14
34’ — Naulia Dawai Try, Conversion is good — Utah 12, Seattle 21
40’ — Calvin Whiting Penalty Goal — Utah 15, Seattle 21
50’ — Ross Neal Try, Conversion is good — Utah 15, Seattle 28
59’ — Jurie Van Vuuren Try, Conversion is good — Utah 22, Seattle 28
80’ — Olive Kilifi Try, Conversion is good — Utah 29, Seattle 28