Houston SaberCats Second Half Key to Win Over Capital Selects

Houston SaberCats vs. Capital Rugby Union Selects

The Houston SaberCats took a 14-0 lead over the Capital Rugby Union Selects into the break. They then used a strong second half to beat the Selects 49-3 in their tenth pre-season match at Constellation Field in Sugarland, Texas. Grant Cole and Brett Mills provided the commentary for the team on MixLr.

The Houston SaberCats have had a busy January, defeating James Bay Athletic Association 42-13 on Jan. 27. On Jan. 20, the team lost to the Uruguay National Team 32-24, Jan 13 they lost in the final minutes to the Vancouver Ravens 26-23, and on Jan. 6 they won 50-7 against the Seattle Saracens, 50-7.

The team also won 5 matches in November and December against USA D1 Club competition.

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. Capital Rugby Union Selects Preview.

Houston SaberCats vs. Capital Rugby Union Selects Recap

The pre-match festivities included a salute to veterans.  Once the match began the opening kick by Connor Murphy was taken by Cecil Garber. Matt Holsopple was penalized from entering the breakdown from the side. After kicking for territory, the SaberCats executed a 5-meter lineout with Robert Meeson going to within a meter before Justin Allen finished the attack with a try. Zach Pangelinan then converted for a 7-0 lead two minutes into the match.

The Capital Selects created good ball movement and after a kick ahead Josua Vici grounded the ball for a 22-meter drop. The Selects attacked again, but Brian Molloy lost the ball forward into touch. Houston elected a scrum and Kieran Farmer cleared to Nick Kuhl, who knocked on the ball.

The SaberCats had a scoring opportunity from a 5-meter lineout, but Harkum and Holsopple spoiled and the scrum went to the Selects and a penalty allowed the Selects to clear.

The Selects had the next opportunity for points as the SaberCats were penalized for not rolling away at the breakdown. Jake Humphrey’s penalty kick, however, was wide.

The SaberCats almost scored on their next attack, but Osea Kolinisau was held up in-goal resulting in a Houston 5-meter scrum. Runs by Pangelinan and Vici moved the ball to within 1 meter, but a counter ruck by the Selects resulted in a turnover by CJ Burnes.

The SaberCats had another opportunity a few minutes later off a Farmer break with an offload to Kolinisau for a try. Pangelinan added the conversion for a 14-0 lead.

The Capital Selects marched down the pitch using some excellent ball handling, however, while inside the SaberCats 22 meters, Zach Schell anticipated his run and knocked on the ball from the offload.

Two SaberCats were slow to get up and jack Riley was replaced by Skeeter Stevens and Petey Hepburn played on, but would leave soon after as a precaution.

The Selects attacked from a scrum with Jim Irey almost going over for a try. Harkum and Irey continued with picks, as Osea Kolinisau was penalized. Evan Harkum was stopped by Paul Mullen and Harkum was called for not releasing allowing the SaberCats to clear and avoid a possible try.

At the break, the score was 14-0 in favor of the SaberCats. The Selects had the majority of possession but did not have the lead. The SaberCats defense was stellar. The Selects played hard nose rugby and kept the ball in their possession through runs a couple meters at a time before trying to get the ball in the hands of Burnes.

Second Half

CJ Burnes started the Selects off on the attack as he rounded the edge, but Dan Paul saved a try with his tackle. Robert Meeson was offsides on a Hagen tackle and a Jake Humphrey penalty kick narrowed the score to 14-3.

The SaberCats then made some changes as Kyle Sumsion replaced Meeson at flanker, Sam Windsor came in at flyhalf, Conor Mills at inside center. Macklin was in at loosehead prop. Very quickly the pace picked up and a Graber pass found Pangelinan for an apparent try. After the referee consulted with the assistant referee (touch judge), a knock on was ruled in-goal negating the try.

The Selects had a 5-meter scrum, but Stevens took the ball against the head and Mills went in-goal, but was held up. The SaberCats used a 5-meter scrum just right of the posts for Matt Trouville to pick and dot down a try. Pangelinan would keep his perfect conversion streak on the night and the score was 21-3.

At the 62nd minute, Josua Vici rounded the edge and touched down under the posts. Pangelinan slotted the ball again and the momentum of the match was with the SaberCats. Soon after, Vici would add another try with Pangelinan adding the conversion for a 35-3 lead.

The SaberCats would attack again but would lose the ball to the Selects. A pass was anticipated by Sam Windsor, who intercepted the ball and ran in for a try.

More changes were made by the SaberCats as former University of Houston defensive end, Chauntez Jackson went in at tighthead prop. After practicing for two months with the team, it was his first rugby match ever. Andres Diaz also entered at hooker.

The SaberCats added a final try in the 77th minute as a Kyle Sumsion break led to an Osea Kolinisau try and Pangelinan conversion for a 49-3 lead.

Chris Milledge and Chris Slater would have some touches in the backs before the match ended and 290 pound Chauntez Jackson would drive three Selects players back as he entered the breakdown for some additional excitement prior to the whistle ending the match with a 49-3 SaberCats win.


The Captial Rugby Union Selects played the SaberCats tough for the first 50 minutes. They controlled the majority of possession, but the speed of the defense kept the SaberCats in the match and when scoring opportunities were presented, the SaberCats finished off their attack.

The match provided many SaberCats reserves to get some quality playing time. For the last 30 minutes, the SaberCats inserted a number of their normal starters and the momentum shifted as the pace of play increased.

Jack Riley continues to develop as a hooker and his lineout throws have been increasing with accuracy. Kieran Farmer played a spirited match and had several breaks and spread the ball to his backs. Dan Paul is showing that he is a very good defender.

Cecil Garber IV was a force while on the pitch and was named Texas Mattress Makers Man of the Match. Also, credit Head Coach Justin Fitzpatrick in developing crossover athlete talent in Chauntez Jackson. As he learns the intricacies of the game, he will be a force. The SaberCats already have some outstanding props in Adam Macklin, new addition Paul Mullen and Petey Hepburn. When Jake Turnbull returns for the start of the Major League Rugby season, he will also be a force.

The scrums are enhanced with locks Charlie Hewitt and Justin Allen and the back row players are difficult to match.

The SaberCats back placed a disciplined match with the changes in starters, but their strength is to get the ball wide at a very fast pace. The Selects should be credited with slowing the pace down in the match and by doing so were able to control the early possession.

Next week the SaberCats will play the Chicago Lions, a perennial Midwest, and National powerhouse club. The match will begin at 7 pm CST at Constellation Field in Sugarland, Texas. Grant Cole and Brett Mills will continue their excellent commentary on Mixlr. They are the voice of the SaberCats.

The experience of Capital Selects players Doc Irey, Guy Lopresti, and Evan Harkum should be noted with setting up in the scrum further back on occasion. This created a couple of early shoves by the SaberCats, which resulted in penalties.

Harkum, Holsopple, and Brown were all over the pitch, and the entire backline was constantly on the attack. The greater line speed of the SaberCats limited some of the Selects gains.

The Capital Rugby Union Selects are playing inspired representative rugby and the Union, coaches, and players should be commended for their efforts.

Attendance for the match was 2,250, which is good for a night after the rain, temperatures in the low 50s and the fog.

Houston SaberCats & Capital Selects Squads

Houston SaberCats: 1 Kenneth Hepburn 2 Jack Riley 3 Paul Mullen 4 Charlie Hewitt 5 Justin Allen 6 Robert Meeson 7 Cecil Garber  8 Matt Trouville (c) 9 Connor Murphy 10 Kieran Farmer 11 Josua Vici 12 Osea Kolinisau 13 Dan Paul 14 Malacchi Esdale 15 Zach Pangelinan 16 Lindsey Stevens 17 Chauntez Jackson 18 Adam Macklin 19 Chris Parker 20 Kyle Sumsion 21 Chris Milledge 22 Sam Windsor 23 Conor Mills 24 Chris Slater 25 Andres Diaz

Capital Selects: 1 Jim Irey (Norfolk) 2 Guy Lopresti (PAC Exiles) 3 Evan Harkum (Baltimore-Chesapeake) 4 Tyler Barberi (Baltimore-Chesapeake) 5 Matt Holsopple (Norfolk) 6 Eric Hagen (Norfolk) 7 Zach Schell (Pittsburgh)  8 Josh Brown (Rocky Gorge) 9 Sean Hartig (Rocky Gorge) 10 Jake Humphrey (Norfolk) 11 CJ Burnes (NOVA) 12 Campbell Johnstone (Beltway Elite) 13 Brian Mulloy (NOVA) 14 Justin Menke (Norfolk) 15 Nick Kuhl (Rocky Gorge) 16 Eric Sweeney (Baltimore-Chesapeake) 17 Adam Flood (James River) 18 Zack Jessell (Pittsburgh) 19 Alex Diegel (Beltway Elite) 20 Kevin Jackson (Rocky Gorge) 21 Vili Siale (Pittsburgh) 22 Calvin Storey (Raleigh) 23 Eugene Becton (Rocky Gorge)

Capital Selects Staff: Head Coach Chris Porter (Norfolk), Assistant Coaches Jeremy Frayne (Norfork) & Jon Grasso (Beltway Elite), Manager Roland Pratt (Beltway Elite), HP Director Steven Davis (Washington RFC)

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