Eyes on the prize: SaberCats defeat Anthem Rugby Carolina

May 11, 2024 | Uncategorized

By Aaron Wilson

The final outcome became extremely clear early Friday night as the SaberCats built a huge advantage on the road over Anthem Rugby Carolina.
After building a 33-3 halftime lead, the SaberCats held on for a 38-15 five-point victory to improve to 9-1 overall for the season.
Boosting their winning streak to four matches in a row after a loss to the New England Free Jacks, the SaberCats were pleased with the win. They were primarily focused afterward on the bigger picture and maintaining their standards throughout the match after some sloppy moments in the second half.
“The win is the main thing,” said Drew Wild, who scored a try off a pass from Jay Renton in close quarters in the first half. “Obviously, the second half wasn’t quite what we wanted. We did enough to get the five points and come away with the win.”

In the first half, SaberCats Gideon van Wyk, Louritz van der Schyff, and Drew Wild scored tries. Jay Renton also scored his first try as well as a pair of tries from wing Jeremy Misailegalu who scored in the first and second half.

“It was exactly what we wanted at the start,” Misailegalu said. “I guess in the second half the standards kind of dropped and their momentum picked up. Credit to them, they didn’t quit.
“We’re happy we won, but we’re a little disappointed about we let off toward the end. It’s super nice to come away with five points, but we’re being a little harder on ourselves.”
As one of the top teams in Major League Rugby, the Western Conference division leaders are aiming toward their third consecutive playoff appearance.
A year ago, the SaberCats won a franchise-record 10 matches. They’re now one win away from matching that milestone.
Their bigger-picture goal is winning the shield for the first time in franchise history.
Every week, the SaberCats get opponents’ best shot as they’re extremely motivated to try to knock them off.
Anthem v Houston 11
“You’re exactly right,” Wild said. “When you’re at the top, teams rise up to try to beat the top dogs. The challenge for us to try to rise up to that and prepare every week as if we want to keep improving. We still feel like we haven’t had our complete performance yet. We want to strive to be our best every week.”
The SaberCats have a deep roster. Each week, the lineup changes and different players contribute. It’s a team-oriented, competitive approach to the game.
“100 percent, our depth is crazy,” Wild said. “We have guys back at home not playing that could start and they wouldn’t look out of place. The boys stepped up. I’m feeling good. We’ve got a lot of competition in our squad. There’s a lot of pressure to play well. It’s bringing the best out of me personally.”
Overall, the takeaway from the match is a net positive.
“It was a bit messy, but we can take a lot of positives out of it,” Gideon van Wyk said. “There are still a lot of things to work on overall. A five-point win is always a positive. We did well in the first half. In the second half, we had a lack of focus. It’s definitely a thing we’re going to work on. A lot of guys got chances to play with new combinations, but everyone understands it’s not our standards.
Anthem v Houston 10
“I think the most important thing is to stay calm and not get big-headed. You saw what happened with the Free Jacks match. We need to go back to the drawing board and get one percent better. If you’re on top, a lot of guys don’t have anything to lose when they play us. We have a lot to lose. We need to stay focused.”
Renton picked up his first try, much to the enjoyment of his teammates.
“I’m so glad for that guy,” van Wyk said. “He’s been communicating and training hard and has a positive attitude. He finally got his chance.”
A scrum half from New Zealand in his first season with the SaberCats, Renton has been working toward this goal of contributing.
“Anytime you have a player like Jay who’s been training his ass off and finally gets to play and get his first try, it’s amazing to see and amazing to be a part of,” Misailegalu said. “I’m super happy for him. He’s a good lad and a hard worker.”