‘Came out of the blocks,’ SaberCats bounce back, beat Old Glory DC

Apr 22, 2024 | Uncategorized

By Aaron Wilson

Taking lessons to heart and applying them in a practical manner, the SaberCats bounced back in resounding fashion.
One week after taking their first loss of the season against the New England Free Jacks, the SaberCats manufactured a 38-17 road victory over Old Glory DC to improve to 6-1 overall.
The SaberCats got off to a 31-10 halftime lead that included a game-opening try from leading scorer Davy Coetzer.
“It’s always tough coming back from a loss and to get back on the wagon,” back row-lock Marno Redelinghuys said. “The boys have done well. In the first half, we came out of the blocks and were dominant.
“I wish we could have kept the foot on the pedal in the second half, but we’ll always take the five points. The emphasis was being ready and to be that guy who’s electrifying and sets the tone. Everybody was ready and dialed in.”
Within that 38-17 triumph, Dominic Akina got his 50th Major League Rugby cap.
And A.J. Alatimu led the SaberCats with 13 points as the team got tries from Christian Dyer, Gideon van Wyk, Maks van Dyk, and Dom Akina.
Ronan Murphy led the SaberCats with 13 tackles, followed by 12 tackles from van Wyk, 12 from Justin Basson, nine from Tiaan Erasmus and seven from Dyer.
Andre Warner led the team with 116 kicking meters.
And Akina had a match-high 54 running meters.
“It was a physical game,” said van Wyk, a back row who has the frame and mobility of an NFL linebacker at 6-foot-2, 233 pounds. “I think the guys stuck in there at crucial moments and, luckily, we got the rewards by staying patient throughout the game. On my try, I saw the ball in the air and went to grab it and rolled for the try. Right place, right time.
“I think the loss was a big learning curve for the whole team. I can say with confidence that we’re like a wounded buffalo. It comes back and it kills you. We have guys that are focused and ready for the battle.”
The SaberCats won their first five matches of the season and were the lone undefeated squad in Major League Rugby.
Now, they’re back on a winning track.
“I think it would have been great to have a perfect start, 6 out of 6, but I think you get back stronger from a loss,” Redelinghuys said. “Sometimes, you don’t really think about all the things you do wrong when you keep winning. It’s good to be reminded that it’s the one percent that makes the difference in championship matches.
“Everybody worked hard to get back on track. Against New England, our defense wasn’t up to the standard. There were a bunch of individual errors and discipline was another thing.”
Camaraderie and culture are at the heart of the closeknit approach led by director Heyneke Meyer and coach Pote Human.
“At the end of the day, we’re a squad of 35 players and all the coaching staff and management, everybody buys in and rallies and is committed to win this championship,” Redelinhuys said. “It’s a very positive vibe at work.”
Playing time has been distributed throughout the roster. The lineup changes every week on an overhauled squad that won a franchise-record 10 games last season and has qualified for the playoffs each of the past two seasons.
“I think all the credit goes to the coaching staff and recruiting guys,” van Wyk said. “Guys like Vic Meyer and Heyneke and Pote put a lot of effort into getting the right guys and culture together.
“That’s the No. 1 thing for the coaches is to find the right kind of guys. Everybody gets along and we have different guys from all over the world. We have each others’ back.”