The Houston SaberCats hosted Austin Elite Rugby in a Friday night match on Jan. 11 at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas. The match was a close one with the SaberCats holding a 5-0 lead at the break. They expanded the lead to 10-0 before Austin Elite Rugby scored two converted tries for a 14-10 win.
A number of visitors were in Houston for the USA Rugby National Development Summit. One of the visitors was USA Rugby Men’s National Team Coach Gary Gold, who made comments about the match and the MLR 2019 season.
First @usmlr pre season game in the incredible #ConstinationStadium with @Austin_E_Rugby edging out @Hou_Sabercats in a tight fought affair. Based on tonight, it’s going to be an epic @usmlr season. pic.twitter.com/nKcrhm93NQ
— Gary Gold (@GaryGoldrugbyiq) January 12, 2019
The SaberCats will play one more preseason match on January 19 against the Glendale Raptors at Constellation Field before facing Austin Elite Rugby in the Major League Rugby regular season opener for both teams. The January 26th match is at 8 pm and will be broadcast on ESPN+, Facebook Watch, and KUBE. Austin Elite Rugby will travel to face the Dallas Reds in their second preseason match next Saturday.
A match preview article was published which discusses the teams and the players.
The match between the Houston SabeCats and Austin Elite Rugby was a defensive match with the SaberCats taking a 5-0 lead after a Joshua Vici counterattack and the finish by Zach Pangelinan in the right corner. Turnovers for both sides were an issue with the SaberCats heading the list of penalties. In the set pieces, Houston lost a couple of scrums and held keep possession of their lineouts and stealing one of Austin Elite.
The second half had the SaberCats pushing the lead to 10-0 after a try by Alex Elkins, who has made the conversion from wing to back row. In the 61st minute, Austin Elite Rugby captain and lock Ben Mitchell dotted down under the posts. Scrumhalf Mickael Romera then slotted the easy conversion to cut the lead to 10-7.
The match was decided in the 68th minute with Aiden McMullen scoring the winning try and Mickael Romera adding the conversion for a 14-10 win.
During the second half, the SaberCats sliced their turnovers in half, just edging Austin Elite Rugby in this category. Houston won a scrum against the head and each team stole a lineout from each other. The SaberCats limited penalties during the second half, but Austin Elite Rugby penalties will be a topic of discussion at training.
Both teams did not have their full contingent of players for the match. Both teams play their last preseason match next Saturday before the SaberCats and Austin Elite meet again to open the 2019 MLR regular season in Houston on January 26.
Houston SaberCats: 1 Jake Turnbull 2 Pat O’Toole 3 Charlie Connolly 4 Robert Meeson 5 Matt Trouville (C) 6 Chris Coyle 7 Cecil Garber 8 Alex Elkins 9 Connor Murphy 10 Sam Windsor 11 Joshua Vici 12 Conor Mills 13 Osea Kolinisau 14 Malacchi Esdale 15 Zach Pangelinan 16 Liam Scott Andrews 17 Jamie Dever 18 Matt Almeida 19 Chris Parker 20 Luke Beauchamp 21 Ayron Schramm 22 Santiago Arata 23 Kieran Farmer 24 Irving Caramo 25 Joe Kelly 26 Roddrick Waters + Head Coach Justin Fitzpatrick, Defense Coach Neil Kelly, Backs Coach Sam Windsor (See #10), Skills Coach Paul Emerick
Austin Elite Rugby: 1: Simon Courcoul (#25) 2: Chris Schade 3: Mason Pedersen 4: Ben Mitchell (C) 5: Josh Larsen 6: Kyle Breytenbach 7: Dominique Bailey 8: Travis Larsen 9: Mickael Romera 10: Tim Guillimin 11: Reece Czarnecki 12: Andres Vilaseca 13: Sione Fangaiuiha 14: Alex Faison Donahoe 15: Zinzan Elan-Puttick 16 Brendan Rams (#18) 17 Juan Echeverria 18 LaRome White 19 Craig Welborn 20 Brian Welborn 21 Mohamed Moe (#24) 22 Aiden McMullen (No#) 23 Michael Nieuwenhuysen (#11) + Head Coach Alain Hyardet
Houston SaberCats & Austin Elite Player Signings
Houston SaberCats have made signing announcements for the following players for 2019 that are not playing in this match: Uruguay National Team No 8 Alejandro Nieto, Uruguay National team prop Mateo Sanguinetti, Charlie Hewitt, Victor Comptat, Codi Jones, Max Tacket, and Gabe Romero.
Austin Elite Rugby has also announced the signing of Peni Tagive, Chilean Housscrumhalf Marcelo Torrealba, Moroccan wing Soheyl Jaoudat, South African Rikus Zwart, Uruguay prop Juan Echeverria, who is with the National team camp, and former NOLA Gold No. 8 Sebastián Kalm.