The Utah Warriors defeated Austin Elite Rugby 35-19 on Saturday, April 27 at Zions Bank Stadium. With the win, the Warriors record improves to 2-8-1, while Austin Elite is 0-11, despite playing well.
The Utah Warriors will travel to face the Glendale Raptors on May 4, while Austin Elite will play NOLA Gold that same day.
The Utah Warriors scored in the second minute after an offload by Tim O’Malley to Fets Vainikolo for a try to lead after O’Malley’s conversion 7-0.
Austin Elite answered back in the 18th minute with a try by Juan Echeverria from close range with Vilaseca converting to level the match at 7 all. Two minutes later, Andres Vilaseca added a try to take a 12-7 lead.
The Warriors added a try by James Semple in the corner with both forwards and backs linking to reclaim the lead 14-12. Just prior to the break Offloads by Semple and O’Malley resulted in an Ara Elkington try to extend the lead to 21-12.
The teams went back and forth until the 66th minute, when Lance Williams offloaded as he was being tackled by multiple defenders, with Les Soloai adding a try to lead 28-12. Fets Vainikolo added a second try as he evaded multiple defenders, 35-12.
Austin Elite Rugby added a final try by Rikus Zwart that was converted by JP Aguirre for a final of 35-19 to the Warriors.
The Utah Warriors named Fets Vainikolo as the Man of the Match.
Simon Bienvenu was a last minute replacement for Mickael Romera and made his MLR debut with Austin Elite Rugby.
MLR Stats showed that the teams each had 50% of possession, while the Warriors had a slight edge in the territory at 52%. Austin Elite won more lineouts, 13 to 6, with both teams losing 3. The scrum edge also went to Austin 9 to 5, with the Warriors also losing 3. The Warriors also were penalized more 14-5. Take away either defensive lapses that allowed three tries by the Warriors to begin the match, end the first half and at the end of the match, and the score was closer than the result indicates. Credit Utah in their attack.
Both teams have improved since the beginning of the season and will get better. The Warriors announced that they added former All Black and Super Rugby back-row Adam Thompson and Fiji Sevens Olympian Vatemo Ravouvou for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. This week Austin Elite Rugby signed Simon Bienvenu, who has been waiting for his visa to be approved. Other players could be added pending visa approval.
Squads with Player Article Links & Match Preview
Utah Warriors: 1 Franco Van den Berg 2 Jeremy Leber 3 Angus Maclellan 4 Saia Uhila (VC) 5 Matt Jensen 6 Lance Williams 7 Ara Elkington 8 Arthur Bergo 9 Johnny Ika 10 Josh Reeves 11 Fetu’u Vanikolo 12 Tim O’Malley (C) 13 Gannon Moore 14 Don Pati 15 James Semple 16 Metai Tuimoala 17 Frederik De Beer 18 John Cullen 19 Les Soloai 20 Alex Tucci 21 Nolan Tuamoheloa 22 Josh Whippy 23 Ian Luciano + Head Coach Alf Daniels
Austin Elite Rugby: 1 Juan Echeverria 2 Peter Malcolm 3 Mason Pedersen 4 Ben Mitchell (C) 5 Josh Larsen (C) 6 Dominique Bailey 7 Moe Abdelmonem 8 Travis Larsen 9 Marcelo Torrealba 10 Rodrigo Sliva 11 Sione Fangaiuiha 12 Andres Vilaseca 13 Juan Pablo “JP’ Aguirre 14 Doug Fraser 15 Zinzan Elan-Puttick 16 Tiaan Strauss Erasmus 17 LaRome White 18 Chris Schade19 Maikeli Mudu Naromaitoga 20 Rikus Zwart 21 Simon Bienvenu 22 Reece Czarnecki 23 Soheyl Jaoudat + Head Coach Alain Hyardet