Houston SaberCats Defeat Chicago Lions President’s XV

Houston SaberCats vs. Chicago Lions

The Houston SaberCats beat the Chicago Lions President’s XV 61-10 to increase their record to 9-2. Last week they won against the Capital Rugby Union Selects 49-3 and will face New York Athletic Club on Feb. 17. 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.

Houston SaberCats vs. Chicago Lions President’s XV Recap

The Chicago Lions Sondai Adjei kicked the ball deep to begin the match and the SaberCats quickly went wide right to Zach Pangelinan, who entered the backline. Drives by Kyle Sumsion, Charlie Hewitt, Chris Parker, and Adam Macklin moved the ball deep inside the Chicago Lions red zone. Connor Murphy quickly moved the ball to Pangelinan after the breakdown and Josua Vici appeared to have a try. This was overruled by the referee, who indicated a knock on.

From the ensuing Lions 5-meter scrum, the SaberCats drove winning the tight head and Justin Allen powered his way over the line for a try. Pangelinan missed the conversion, but Houston had a 5-0 lead in the 3rd minute.

After a side entry penalty by Lions’ Brady Ghent, the SaberCats attacked from a lineout and Murphy found a gap and offloaded to Josua Vici for a try. Pangelinan converted increasing the score to 12-0.

The Chicago Lions answered back after Connor Murphy was called for an offsides penalty. The Lions elected not to go for the sticks and kicked to touch for a lineout. Erik Jacobson secured the ball and after picks and goes from the forwards, jamieBrache went in for a try. Andrew Suniula converted to narrow the score to 12-7.

The SaberCats used a lineout steal by Adam Macklin to attack to the Chicago Lions 22-meters before losing the ball. Josh Allen quickly gained an intercept, but the ball was lost against with Malacchi Esdale tracking back on a kick and intercepted the ball, saving a try. Vici then turned on his high gear and after a long run, Osea Kolinisau finished with a try. Pangelinan conversion increased the score to 19-7.

The Chicago Lions then narrowed the score to 19-10 after an Andrew Suniula penalty kick. The SaberCats answered right back from a lineout take by Justin Allen and after a drive, Lindsey Stevens barreled in for a try and a Pangelinan conversion making it 26-10.

The final score of the half came after Lions fullback Sondai Adjei was sent to the bin for a dangerous tackle. Connor Murphy tapped and Sam Windsor picked up a loose ball and ran in the team’s 5th try. Pangelinan again converted for a 33-10 lead that would be maintained until the break.

Second Half

The SaberCats needed about two minutes to add to their lead as Osea Kolinisau was tackled high. Murphy took the quick tap and darted in for a try. Pangelinan slotted the conversion and the lead was 40-10.

The Chicago Lions attacked through several phases with Ghent, Dorrier, and Allan handling the ball before Suniula cleared. The teams traded kicks and then a tackle advantage penalty ultimately gave the SaberCats the ball from a 5-meter lineout. The height advantage that was working in Houston’s favor during the match, was negated with a steal by the Lions. Alex Dorrier cleared the ball, but it went into Esdale’s hands. Kolinisau kicked ahead and Vici ignored numbers on the left with Conor Mills supporting, as a try was not awarded, resulting in a 22-meter drop.

The SaberCats would score the next time the ball went into their hands as Sam Windsor dummied his way in for a try and after the Pangelinan conversion, Houston led 47-10.

The substitutions were being made by both sides with about 20 minutes remaining. Crossover athlete Chauntez Jackson made two consecutive tackles. the first was on Manny Aranda and the second on Andrew Suniula. The second one was high and after a minute on the pitch, Jackson went to the bin.

The first scrum to the Lions resulted in Estevan Florez coming in at prop and Esdale going off.

The Chicago Lions used a penalty against Justin Allen for a dangerous tackle to attack, using kick hands by Suniula to Hidalgo to Spagnolo, with the latter going into contact. Lions captain Andrew Rose crossed the line but was held up in-goal. The SaberCats used an excellent goal line defense to repel the Lions attack.

After a knock on by Kevin Lydon, Sumsion and Garber ran to mid-field. Conor Mills then kicked a high ball and Malacchi Esdale raced and reached high to snag and went in for an easy try. Pangelinan continued his accurate night kicking, as the lead went to 54-10.

After some back and forth kicks by Pangelinan and Alex Binetti, the SaberCats used a lineout for a Sam Windsor offload to Cecil Garber for the team’s last try. After Pangelinan slotted the kick the score was 61-10.

The SaberCats almost added to the score, except for a forward pass to Esdale. The Chicago Lions also had the last attack, but Binetti was run down by Mills.

With the 61-10 win, the SaberCats record improved to 9-2. They will face the New York Athletic Club next Saturday.

Josua Vici was named the man of the match. Brett Mills, also complimented the play of Andrew Rose for the Chicago Lions and Chris Parker for Houston.

The SaberCats had a dominant scrum on the day. They drove on the Lions and secured a couple of tight heads. The height advantage in the lineouts also was a factor. The Lions pressure defense by the backs was effective, but the SaberCats will need to adjust by grubbing ahead to keep the opposing team honest.

The preview of the match did not list the match as a Chicago Lions President’s XV. The Lions had 4 players from the Griffins, an Indiana University player in Alex Dorrier and a Davenport University player, Sondai Adjei. The reserves also included a couple of Chicago Blaze players and two Rugby League players.

The Chicago Lions were a quality side. It is early in the second half of their split season, while the SaberCats have been training and playing for months. With the high pace of play, later in the second half, the SaberCats fitness was evident.

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

Chicago Lions President’s XV: 1 John Luhrsen 2 Chris Ghering 3 Eli Phillips 4 Scott Weber 5 Erik Jacobson 6 Sean Mahon 7 Jamie Brache 8 Andrew Rose 9 Brady Ghent 10 Alex Dorrier 11 jake Hidalgo 12 Andrew Suniula 13 Josh Allan 14 Brian Rooney 15 Sondai Adjei 16 Manny Aranda 17 Spencer Krueger 18 Phil Spagnolo 19 Dave Whitney 20 Quinn Maccali 21 Kevin Lydon 22 Alex Binetti 23 Dan Coci

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