Utah Warriors Face Giltinis In MLR Western Conference Championship
LOS ANGELES, CA — The Utah Warriors travel to Los Angeles, California to take on the LA Giltinis this Sunday, July 25, in the Major League Rugby Western Conference Championship with a spot in the MLR Championship at stake.
The Giltinis, who finished the MLR Regular Season with a 12-4 record, the top record in Major League Rugby, are led by MLR’s leading conversion scorer Matt Giteau and MLR leading try-scorer DTH van der Merwe. The Giltinis split the season series vs. Utah, with Sunday’s match being the second consecutive week the Warriors and Giltinis will face off, coming off of a 34-29 Warrior victory last Saturday.
“It’s really difficult to play the same opponents multiple weeks in a row,” said Utah Warriors Head Coach Shawn Pittman. “They know what we’re trying to accomplish and what combinations are going to be difficult for them to defend. We tried to play our cards close to the chest as much as possible last week and not give away anything for this matchup so we should still be able to execute our game plan at a high level despite back-to-back matches against this same Giltinis squad.”
Despite back-to-back matches against the same opponent, Pittman believes the Warriors will see a very different Giltinis on the field this Sunday.
Who's coming out victorious in the Conference Finals? 🤔
— Major League Rugby (@usmlr) July 23, 2021
“LA’s team will Have about 9 changes on their game day roster this weekend,” said Pittman. “But, despite facing a different Giltinis squad, we feel the narrow field and the physical battle and challenge we represent will make things difficult for them.”
Utah finished the regular season in third-place in the Major League Rugby Standings and in second-place in the Western Conference with a 10-6 record and 57 table points. The Warriors also finished with the second highest point total in the MLR with 506 points scored, just behind the powerful LA attack.
“LA is a good defensive outfit who have a high tackle percentage on a narrow field,” said Warriors Assistant Coach Shaun Davies. “In order to break them, we’re going to have to go through the phases and be patient with ball-in-hand. If we’re able to hold onto the ball in the right areas of the field, we’ll put ourselves in a position to take advantage of LA and keep the pressure on them.”
— Utah Warriors Rugby (@utwarriorsrugby) July 22, 2021
Davies hopes that the Warriors can buck a recent trend of slow starts for the Warriors, and put together a complete 80-minutes of high-end play. Something he believes will be crucial in order to take down the league’s top regular season team.
“It’s going to take a full team effort this weekend,” said Davies. “We’ve often leaned on the Guerrilla squad to do a job at the end of the game and we know they’re able to do that. But with a team like LA, we can’t rely on the bench to win the game. We’re going to need a strong start and full 80 minute performance from the boys.”
For the second time in team history we are PLAYOFF BOUND.
— Utah Warriors Rugby (@utwarriorsrugby) July 19, 2021
Sunday’s match will kick off at 4:00 PM Mountain Time and will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network. Fans can also catch the action on ESPN 700 and ESPN 960 AM. The winner of Sunday’s match will face the winner of Rugby United New York and Rugby ATL in the Major League Rugby Championship on Sunday, August 1.
Utah Warriors vs. LA Giltinis
Date: Sunday, July 25
Time: 4:00 p.m. (MDT)
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Broadcast: CBS Sports Network
Radio: 700 AM and 960 AM