he Houston SaberCats defeated the Colorado Raptors 21-12 to start week one of the 2020 Major League Rugby season at AVEVA Stadium. The match was broadcast on ESPNews.
The Houston SaberCats and the Colorado Raptors have the only dedicated rugby only field in the United States in professional rugby.
Get to know the players by clicking on the DJCoil Rugby article squad links below.
The Houston SaberCats stole a Colorado scrum as they drove forward. Adriaan Booysen broke and Diego Fortuny’s offload was forward to Diego Magno. Soon after the Raptors were penalized for obstruction with the SaberCats striking first with a penalty goal by Sam Windsor to lead 3-0.
The SaberCats moved the ball wide left with Tiaan Loots offloading to Matias Freyre and inside to Loots to Sam Windsor for the try and an 8-0 lead, as the conversion by Windsor was missed.
Colorado attacked from a lineout deep inside SaberCats territory and went through multiple phases and the defense prevailed creating a turnover for a 5-meter scrum. Windsor then cleared to midfield for a Raptors lineout. Colorado answered back with Chad London offloading inside to John Ryberg, who finished with a try. Tomas Quinlan’s conversion attempt was wide right, but the lead was cut to 8-5.
A lineout turnover by the SaberCats had Houston attacking to within 5-meters of in-goal. Houston elected a scrum and after another Raptors infraction, Brendan Daly was sent to the bin in the 40th minute. The SaberCats elected another scrum after showing early dominance and No.8 Adriaan Booysen stretched and grounded the ball for a 13-5 lead at the break.
The Raptors had the first scoring opportunity with Tomas Quinlan’s penalty goal attempt wide. When the SaberCats had a similar chance, Windsor’s kick was also wide.
Following a knock-on on an offload to Rene Ranger, the SaberCats countered with a cross-kick by De Wet Roos to Malacchi Esdale for a try in the left corner, 18-5. The wind continued to impact the kickers, as Windsor’s conversion sailed right of the posts.
The Raptors answered back with a Kelepi Fifita try with Robbie Petzer adding the extras to cut the lead to 18-12.
An offsides penalty by the Raptors then sealed the match for the SaberCats with a penalty goal to make it a two-score game, 21-12, with a minute remaining in the match.
The Raptors had the ball inside Houston territory, but a handling error allowed the SaberCats to close out the match to win 21-12. That’s five wins in a row since the last month of the 2019 season.
Both teams will travel to Las Vegas for matches on Sunday, February 16 as part of MLR Vegas Weekend. Both teams will be the visiting teams with the Toronto Arrows hosting the SaberCats and San Diego Legion facing Colorado.
Man of the Match honors went to Sam Windsor of the Houston SaberCats.
Squads With Player Article Links & Match Preview
Houston SaberCats: 1 Valdemar Lee-Lo 2 Diego Fortuny 3 Charlie Connolly 4 Kyle Breytenbach 5 Victor Comptat 6 Cecil Garber 7 Diego Magno (VC) 8 Adriaan Booysen 9 Dewet Roos (C) 10 Sam Windsor 11 Malacchi Esdale 12 Tiaan Loots 13 Matias Freyre 14 Zach Pangelinan 15 Osea Kolinisau 16 Campbell ‘CJ’ Burke 17 Boyd Wiggins 18 Nicolas Solveyra 19 Rob Meeson 20 Luke Beauchamp 21 Jake Christmann 22 Taylor Howden 23 Kieran Farmer Head Coach Paul Healy
Colorado Raptors: 1 Sakaria Taulafo 2 Chad Gough 3 Marco Fepulea’i 4 Michael Curry 5 Luke White (C) 6 Brendan Daly 7 Michael Stewart 8 Sam Slade 9 Carlo De Nysschen 10 Tomas Quinlan 11 John Ryberg 12 Robbie Petzer 13 Chad London 14 Mika Kruse 15 Mason Emerson16 Jay Finau 17 Xendy Tatibouet 18 Kelepi Fifita 19 Dakota O’Neil 20 Connor Cook 21 Ata Malifa 22 Rene Ranger 23 Nick Boyer