Houston SaberCats vs. Ontario Arrows
The Houston SaberCats hosted the Ontario Arrows on March 3 in their last pre-season match at Constellation Field in Sugarland, Texas. The team still has away matches still against the New Orleans Gold and the San Diego Legion prior to their Major League Rugby season opener on April 21.
The Houston SaberCats also announced that they will be playing their 2018 regular season home matches at Dyer Stadium, 2020 Mangum Rd, Houston, TX. The following year they will move into their new stadium at the Houston Amateur Sports, along Texas 288 south of downtown Houston.
The match between the Houston SaberCats and the Ontario Arrows, a possible Major League Rugby team addition for 2019, was a thrilling one. It was a seesaw battle with the SaberCats taking an 18-17 lead into the break before the match ended in a 28 all draw. The SaberCats record is 11-2-1, while the Ontario Arrows are 0-0-1, as this was their first 2018 season match.
Follow Grant A Cole on MixLr, as Grant Cole and Brett Mills have been providing team commentary for the matches, along with a pre-game show.
A Red River Rugby match preceded the SaberCats match against the Ontario Arrows. Texas A&M defeated LSU 29-14.
In other Major League Rugby news, a San Diego Legion press conference was held on February 28. It was announced that the MLR playoffs will be held at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado and the finals held in San Diego.
Houston SaberCats vs. Ontario Arrows Recap
The match pace was swift with both teams challenging each other in attacks and with pressure defense. The Houston SaberCats took an 18-17 lead into the break and during the second half saw the Ontario Arrows take a lead, the SaberCats strike back to take the lead, and the Arrows slot a penalty kick in the 78th minute to tie the match 28 all.
The Houston SaberCats faced the Ontario Arrows, a team with numerous Canada caps, and a team where the majority of players played representative rugby for the Ontario Blues, with one BC Bear and one Atlantic Rock. This team was expected to provide a substantial challenge and they did not disappoint.
The Houston SaberCats drew first blood in the 5th minute as the team moved to with 5-meters of the line before Matt Trouville executed a show and go, for a try and a 5-0 lead as Pangelinan’s conversion was missed. Teams are very aware of the firepower from Josua Vici, so defenders often slide wide, so when Trouville showed wide and cut back, a gap was there.
Aaron McClelland showed early that he would be a force in the match, as he stepped a couple of SaberCat defenders. After a scrum and a free kick later, the SaberCats were penalized at the breakdown for not releasing Brouwer. This resulted in a 43-meter penalty kick by Shawn Windsor to narrow the lead to 5-3.
The SaberCats had the next scoring opportunity as Zach Pangelinan attempted a 49-meter penalty kick. While the kick sailed over 60-meters, it did not go through the posts. A short time later, the SaberCats switched kickers and Sam Windsor slotted a kick increasing the lead to 8-3.
The Ontario Arrows came right back as Brouwer and Wainwright powered their way before captain Mike Sheppard went over for a try. Shawn Windsor added the conversion and the Arrows took their first lead, 10-8.
The lead did not last long as Peter Milazzo was penalized for not releasing in the breakdown. Windsor went for the sticks and the SaberCats reclaimed the lead, 11-10.
The SaberCats quickly increased the lead after an early engage scrum infraction and Connor Murphy executed a quick tap that led to a Zach Pangelinan 50-meter try. Windsor then converted to an 18-10 lead.
The Arrows answered just prior to the break, after forward pick and goes, leading to Mike Sheppard’s second try. Shawn Windsor slotted the ball and the lead was narrowed to 18-17 at the break.
The Ontario Arrows scored first in the half, as a McClelland offload to Jon West resulted in a try. The conversion was missed, but the Arrows went ahead 22-18. They would add to the lead after a Windsor penalty kick pushing the lead to 25-18.
Osea Kolinisau found a gap and Jake Turnbull finished with a try narrowing the lead to 25-23. Josua Vici added another, as the SaberCats reclaimed the lead 28-25.
Finally, a penalty kick by Will Kelly with two minutes remaining tied the match at 28 all. That is the way it would end, a match that entertaining and contested in every regard. Connor Murphy was named Man of the Match for the SaberCats.
The Houston SaberCats next match is against the New Orleans Gold away on February 24, while the Ontario Arrows travel to play Rugby United New York on March 17.
Houston SaberCats & Ontario Arrows Squads
Houston SaberCats: 1 Adam Macklin 2 Lindsey Stevens 3 Paul Mullen 4 Charlie Hewitt 5 Robert Meeson 6 Kyle Sumsion (C) 7 Chris Coyle 8 Matt Trouville 9 Connor Murphy 10 Sam Windsor 11Alex Elkins12 Conor Mills 13 Malacchi Esdale 14 Josua Vici 15 Zach Pangelinan 16 Andres Diaz 17 Jake Turnbull 18 Kenneth Hepburn 19 Justin Allen 20 Chris Parker 21 Cecil Garber 22 Pago Haini 23 Osea Kolinisau 24 Dan Paul 25 Kieran Farmer + Head Coach Justin Fitzpatrick
Ontario Arrows: 1. Rob Brouwer 2. Andrew Quattrin 3. Tom Dolezel 4. Mike Sheppard (C) 5. Paul Ciulini 6. Peter Milazzo 7. Marcello Wainwright 8. Kolby Francis 9. Alex Gliksten 10. Shawn Windsor 11. Jon West 12. Jamie Leveridge 13. Mitch Richardson 14. John Sheridan 15. Aaron McLelland 16. Jack McRogers 17. Pat Lynott 18. Mike Smith 19. Josh Van Horne 20. Andrew Wilson 21. Mario Van Der Westhuizen 22. Cooper Coats 23. Will Kelly
Ontario Arrows Staff
Head Coach: Chris Silverthorn
Assistant Coaches: David Butcher, Aaron Carpenter, Cory Hector
General Manager: Mark Winokur
Performance Analyst: Rodin Lozada
Athletic Therapist: Chris Kelly
Team Doctor: Dr. John Gillis
Houston SaberCats Pre-Season Record
- April 7 vs San Diego Legion 7 pm
- March 24 at New Orleans Gold 7 pm
- March 3 vs Ontario Arrows (D 28-28) Preview
- Feb 24 vs New Orleans Gold (W 30-12) Preview
- Feb 17 vs NYAC (W 39-38) Preview
- Feb 10 vs Chicago Lions (W 61-10) Preview
- Feb 3 vs Capital Selects (W 49-03) Preview
- Jan 27 vs James Bay Athletic Association (W 42-13) Preview
- Jan 20 vs Uruguay (L 24-32) Preview
- Jan 13 vs Vancouver Ravens (L 23-26) Preview
- Jan 6 vs Seattle Saracens (W 50-07)
- Dec. 16 vs Dallas Reds (W 21-05)
- Dec. 9 at Austin Blacks (W 55-21)
- Dec. 2 at Dallas Quins (W 125-00)
- Nov. 18 vs Dallas Reds at U. Houston (W 31-24)
- Nov 11 vs Austin Blacks (W 46-31)
Houston SaberCats 2018 Major League Rugby Schedule
- April 21 vs New Orleans Gold 7 pm
- April 28 vs Austin Elite 7 pm
- May 5 at San Diego Legion 7 pm
- May 19 at New Orleans Gold 7 pm
- May 26 vs. Utah Warriors 7 pm
- June 2 vs. Seattle Seawolves 7 pm
- June 9 at Glendale Raptors 7 pm
- June 23 at Utah Warriors 7 pm
Ontario Arrows Schedule
- March 3 at Houston SaberCats (D 28-28) Preview
- March 17 at Rugby United New York
- April 7 at Utah Warriors
- April 14 Home vs. Rugby United New York
- April 21 at Boston Mystics
- May 5 Home vs. Boston Mystics