‘A really physical game,’ SaberCats climb to 8-1 with win over Utah

May 5, 2024 | Uncategorized

By Aaron Wilson

Another successful trip to the West Coast. Clutch play in the final moments. And the SaberCats emerged with a narrow victory, holding on after building a huge lead early in the match.
The SaberCats earned a 29-24 road win over the Utah Warriors on Saturday night, improving to 8-1 overall. The Western Conference Division leaders have 39 points overall, one more than the 8-1 Seattle Seawolves.
“It was a really physical game,” Sam Hill said. “We knew it would be a tough task. Utah has won some tough games. The boys all told me it was one of the hardest places to go get a win. We knew it would be physical. They play a good brand of rugby. It was all right there toward the end of it.”
In dropping the Warriors to 4-5, the SaberCats boosted their winning streak to three games as AJ Alatimu earned his 50th Cap and Hill scored his first career try in Major League Rugby.
The SaberCats built a 22-3 lead, then held on to pull out the win.
Alatimu led the SaberCats with nine points, kicking three goals, followed by one try apiece from Seth Smith, an 18-year-old rookie, Fulshear graduate and former all-state fullback, Hill, Drew Wild and Dom Akina. The score marked Wild’s first try of the season.
Utah Warriors x Houston Sabercats, Saturday, May 4, 2024
“It was good,” Hill said of his first try with the SaberCats after previously playing overseas in England. “It was an easy run off a good pass to me. Nevertheless, I was really happy to go over there. The game was tight, and every point counts.”
The SaberCats preserved their win after the Warriors closed the gap to 22-17 on a try from Matt Jensen. Akina intercepted a pass immediately for an uncontested try as he covered half the field for the score. A comeback attempt for the Warriors ultimately fell short as a failed line-out in the final minute ended the game’s final possession.
Smith and Ronan Murphy were the leading tacklers for the SaberCats, followed by Andre’ Warner, Justin Basson and Emmanuel Albert.
Wild led the team in running meters, followed by Alatimu, Akina, Smith and Christian Dyer.
And Smith led the team in ball carries followed by Kenio Nasoqueqe, Basson, Hill and Wild.
The SaberCats are well-positioned as they continue to make a push toward the playoffs for the third consecutive year after winning a franchise-record 10 matches last season.
Utah Warriors x Houston Sabercats, Saturday, May 4, 2024
“Guys are obviously really happy with how it’s going,” Hill said. “There have been some really tough games and we’ve dug out some really good wins. It comes down to hard work and culture and everyone working together as a team. I’ve seen how close the guys are. 
“I didn’t know what to expect coming over here, but it’s a very close-knit group. In a short space, the guys have all become really close and we spend a lot of time together. It makes a huge difference.”
The SaberCats are led by director Heyneke Meyer and coach Pote Human, two longtime colleagues with a vast amount of rugby experience.
“One-hundred percent, the staff has been great,” Hill said. “There’s a great balance here between knowing when to work hard and also have time to relax and when to have a joke with the boys. It all comes from the top with guys who have been around and have experience in the highest levels of the sport.”