The Houston SaberCats defeated James Bay Athletic Association 42-13 Saturday, January 27 in their fourth pre-season match at Constellation Field in Sugarland, Texas. With the win, the team’s record improved to 7-2. Last week they narrowly lost to the Uruguay National Team, Los Teros, 32-24.
The SaberCats began the pre-season against the Seattle Saracens, winning 50-7 on Jan. 6 and losing in the final minutes to the Vancouver Ravens 26-23. The team also won 5 matches in November and December against USA D1 Club competition.
For those that couldn’t attend the match, Grant Cole and Brett Mills provided the commentary for the team on MixLr. They will do so again on February 3, as the SaberCats play the Capital Rugby Union Selects at 7 pm CST at Constellation Field in Sugarland, Texas.
For the Selects, it is their second match against a Major League Rugby team opponent. On January 20, the Selects traveled to New Orleans and lost to NOLA Gold 68-15. It was New Orleans Gold Rugby Club’s first pre-season match.
Houston SaberCats vs. James Bay Athletic Association Recap
The Hoston SaberCats made four changes in their starting XV for the match, along with three of the reserves on the match day roster for the first time. James Bay also needed to make some changes with some fo their players being selected to play for Canada against Uruguay. These changes were discussed in a preview article.
The Houston SaberCats and James Bay went back and forth before the SaberCats had the first scoring opportunity. The team elected not to go for points and the lineout throw was not straight, giving James Bay a 15 meter scrum. While the SaberCats continue to have some issues in the lineouts, their scrummaging has been outstanding, as Diego Maquieira took one against the head. A penalty soon after thwarted the attack and allowed James Bay to clear.
James Bay had the next scoring opportunity, however a Mitch Richardson kick went into the hands of Josua Vici, who moved the ball to the 22 meters. Petey Hepburn, who played a stellar match, went into contact and James Bay was penalized for being offsides. Sam Windsor cleared to midfield and Connor Murphy finished the attack with a quick tap after a penalty for a try and a 5-0 lead.
The SaberCats added a second try from Zach Pangelinan after Barker was penalized for a high tackle on Kyle Sumsion and Pangelinan found a gap for the 25 meter try. The conversion was missed again, but Houston held an early 10-0 lead.
Sam Windsor increased the lead to 13-0 with a 40 meter drop goal, before James Bay got on the board from a Mitch Richarson try after a 5 meter lineout, narrowing the lead to 13-5.
The SaberCats Sam Windsor was sent to the bin with eight minutes remaining in the half for an intentional knock on. James Bay took advantage of being up a man and Blake Mahovic barreled over for a try, cutting the lead to 13-10.
With no time on the clock, a Osea Kolinisau offload from the ground to Josua Vici resulted in a try before the break. Sam Windsor slotted the conversion and the SaberCats led 20-10.
The SaberCats were penalized 16 times to James Bay’s 2 in the first half. The coaching staff will address their discipline as the team continues to shift their match day squads in the pre-season. The lineout throws will need to be more accurate as well. The scrums continue to be a strength as Petey Hepburn, gave Jamie Dever a rest at loosehead prop and Adam Macklin was a force at tighthead prop. The locks and back row connect well, which will be a strength to use in the team’s attack.
James Bay continued to do well in slowing the ball down, as the SaberCats look to move the ball in their attack. The SaberCats also had a couple more early penalties that gave james Bay a lineout 10 meters from the line. The Bears crossed in-goal, but Blake van Heyningen was held up, resulting in a 5 meter scrum. In the ensuing scrum, Paul Ciulini was penalized, thwarting the attack.
James Bay would get the first points in the half as Houston was penalized for not rolling away and Nathan Waldmann slotted the posts narrowing the lead to 20-13. That would be the last score for james Bay as the SaberCats then took control of the match.
Zach Pangelinan slotted a penalty kick in the 54th minute for a 23-13 lead. Five minutes later, Mohamed Abdelmonem was sent to the bin for a dangerous tackle. The SaberCats took advantage of this adding two tries. The first came as Connor Murphy cycled the ball wide resulting in a second try for Josua Vici. Windsor added the conversion. The second try came off a maul with Jack Riley grounding the ball for the try. Windsor again added the conversion for a 37-13 lead.
There was one last yellow card issued in the match, as Robert Meeson was sent to the bin. The SaberCats still were able to add a last try as Kyle Sumsion kicked ahead and gathered the ball for a try. The conversion by Farmer was wide right, but the SaberCats will enjoy a 42-13 win.
The SaberCats reserves had some playing time in the second half. Paul Mullin, a former USA U20 and Munster age grade player, is an excellent addition at prop. Expect to see some lineup changes next week as the team plays the Capital Rugby Union Selects. The SaberCats need to see the potential contributions that their extended squad can make prior to the regular season beginning in April.
Houston SaberCats: 1 Kenneth Hepburn 2 Diego Maquieira 3 Adam Macklin 4 Charlie Hewitt 5 Robert Meeson 6 Chris Parker 7 Cecil Garber 8 Kyle Sumsion (c) 9 Connor Murphy 10 Sam Windsor 11 Josua Vici 12 Conor Mills 13 Dan Paul 14 Osea Kolinisau 15 Zach Pangelinan 16 Andres Diaz 17 Estevan Florez 18 Jack Riley 19 Justin Allen 20 Jackson Slater 21 Chris Slater 22 Kieran Farmer 23 Art Reyes 24 Paul Mullin
James Bay: 1 Blake van Heyningen 2 Steven Ng 3 Noah Barker 4 Shea Wakefield 5 Jacobus de Goede 6 Mohamed Abdelmonem 7 Jakob Butler 8 Paul Ciulini 9 Mitchell Sora 10 Mitch Richardson 11 Aaron Evison
12 Guillaume Caillaux 13 Michael Niewenhuysen 14 Nathan Waldmann 15 Blake Mahovic 16 Andrew Macpherson 17 Jason Lines 18 Jack Mealey 19 Tyler Rockwell 20 Nathan Tough 21 Liam Murray 22 Thomas Burton