Houston SaberCats Lose in Closing Minutes to Vancouver Ravens

Houston SaberCats Play Vancouver Ravens

The Houston SaberCats played their second exhibition season match Saturday, January 13 losing 26-23 to the Vancouver Ravens (Preview) in the closing minutes at Constellation Field.

Last week the SaberCats defeated the Seattle Saracens 50-7 and were undefeated in five scrimmages in November and December entering the match. The SaberCats will play the Uruguay National team next Saturday.

Houston SaberCats vs. Vancouver Ravens Recap

The Ravens kicked deep to Justin Allen and Sam Windsor kicked for territory. The Ravens went through five or six phases before knocking the ball forward. After the third reset of the scrum, Ravens Dimitri Gotsopoulos was penalized for pulling down the scrum. The SaberCats had Mills, Garber, Murphy, and Haini involved in the attack before a Osea Kolinisau switch by Zach Pangelinan led to a try. Pangelinan then missed the conversion from touch right.

Adam McQueen kicked the restart deep to Garber and Windsor kicked the ball to Ferguson. After a few phases, a Ravens knock on thwarted the attack. After the ensuing scrum, the SaberCats went wide to Josua Vici, who sped down the touch for a try in the corner for a 10-0 lead. Pangelinan’s kick from touch was wide left.

Early on the Ravens were having difficulty handling the SaberCats scrum. Houston is also very quick on defense and in transition on offense.

The SaberCats moved the ball to within 5 meters of the try line before Adam Macklin knocked the ball on. Lindsey Stevens took the ball against the head and Charlie Hewitt drove over for the team’s third try. Pangelinan slotted the conversion increasing the lead to 17-0.

The Ravens went on their first sustained attack after a SaberCats knock on. Graham Turner took the ball inside the 22 meters and then the forwards attacked with picks and drives. Pago Haini received a yellow card and soon after Jon Phelan drove the ball over from 5 meters. Adam McQueen slotted the ball to narrow the lead to 17-7 at the 29th minute.

The Ravens had the next scoring opportunity after a SaberCats penalty, as Adam McQueen penalty kick was good to narrow the score to 17-10.

Jamie Dever received a yellow card after retaliating from a gouge by Paul Ahn. The SaberCats are still down a man as Pago Haini just returned. Petey Hepburn needed to enter at prop with Chris Slater going off. The Ravens did not take advantage but will have a man advantage to begin the second half.

During the first half, the SaberCats had some discipline issues and will need to play a more controlled match during the second half.

Second Half

The SaberCats kicked deep to Ahn to start the second half and the Ravens then kicked for territory. The Ravens were pinged for not rolling away and Pangelinan slotted the ball and the lead increased to 20-10. The SaberCats will get Jamie Dever back from the bin in four minutes.

The Ravens fullback Aaron McLellan took advantage of the SaberCats being a man down and added a try and after the McQueen conversion, the score was 20-17. Seconds later Jamie Dever returned to the bin and Petey Hepburn left the pitch and Chris Slater returned.

About six meters from the try line, the SaberCats opted for a scrum after a Ravens penalty. With Houston at full strength, the Ravens are not a match in the scrums. The Ravens committed an infraction again and the SaberCats opted for another scrum but were penalized losing a scoring opportunity. McQueen cleared and the Ravens attacked from a lineout. The Ravens kick ahead bounced into Ravens hands and Chris Slater made a saving tackle.

Dever was penalized ten meters out and McQueen slotted the ball with twenty minutes left to level the match at 20 all.

Ravens took the restart and chipped into Haini’s hands and Windsor knocked the ball on into contact. The Ravens controlled the scrum and then lost the ball to Vici. The SaberCats moved to midfield but were said to knock on at the breakdown.

The Ravens kicked ahead from the scrum and Murphy called a mark. He then kicked to midfield and the Ravens attacked from a lineout. The Ravens were penalized at the SaberCats 40 meters and Pangelinan slotted a long kick to take a 23-20 lead.

The Ravens then gave up possession at midfield as Ahn lineout throw was not straight. Pangelinan then found a gap and the SaberCats went through multiple phases before Murphy kicked downfield to Graham Turner, who kicked into touch. The SaberCats gained some territory on the exchange and Jack Riley threw the ball in from the lineout. Haini was penalized for not releasing at the breakdown and McQueen kicked deep into the SaberCats territory. The Ravens attacked from a lineout turned into a maul.

The Ravens attacked from a 5-meter lineout and Houston was penalized for not rolling away. McQueen’s ball went through the sticks to draw the match even at 23 all with five minutes left.

The SaberCats gained the restart and attacked, but lost the ball forward for a Ravens scrum with three minutes remaining. Sumsion was penalized at the breakdown at midfield and Adam McQueen is going for the win and his kick is good for the Ravens first lead of the match 26-23.

The Ravens maintain possession from the restart, but loss the ball forward with 30 seconds remaining in the match. The SaberCats will have one last possession to score. The SaberCAts are penalized for hands in and the Ravens kick to touch. Paul Ahn throw in is not straight for a SaberCats lineout. Sumsion takes and Garber moves into contact. Murphy moves the ball to Kolinisau, but the offload is forward to Vici who had a bead on scoring. With that, the Ravens claim a 26-23 victory.


The SaberCats had the majority of the possession and their set pieces were a strength for the team, but discipline issues kept the Ravens in the match. The Ravens came back from a 17-0 deficit to narrow the score to 17-10 at the break. Penalties and the foot of Adam McQueen had the Ravens take their first lead 26-23 with three minutes remaining and they held for the win.

The SaberCats will need to regroup after the loss and prepare for the Uruguay National team on January 20th, the week prior to Uruguay traveling to Vancouver to play Canada in a Rugby World Cup Qualifier.

Houston SaberCats: 1 Jamie Dever, 2 Lindsey Stevens 3 Adam Macklin, 4 Justin Allen, 5 Charlie Hewitt 6 Kyle Sumsion (capt.), 7 Cecil Garber, 8 Pago Haini, 9 Connor Murphy, 10 Sam Windsor, 11 Josua Vici, 12 Conor Mills, 13 Osea Kolinisau, 14 Art Reyes, 15 Zach Pangelinan 16 Jack Riley, 17 Estevan Florez, 18 Kenneth Hepburn, 19 Robert Meeson 20 Chris Parker,  21 Chris Slater, 22 Kieran Farmer, 23 Dan Paul

UBCOB RAVENS (AKA VANCOUVER RAVENS): 1 Curtis Delmonico 2 Paul Ahn 3 Dimitri Gotsopoulos 4 Jon Phelan 5 Sam Clarke 6 Nick Waggot 7 Simon Etheve 8 Karl Moran 9 AJ King 10 Harjun Gill 11 Sean Ferguson 12 Adam McQueen 13 Cully Quirke 14 Graham Turner 15 Aaron McLellan 16 Marc Belvedere 17 Matias Suez 18 Trystan Clironomos 19 David O’Donoghue 20 Kol Henrikson 21 Ben Grant 22 Thomas McGrath 23 James Thompson 24 Callum Morrison 25 Michael Green

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