‘Just the stepping stone,’ SaberCats reflect on preseason match against Gold

Feb 25, 2024 | Uncategorized

Written by Aaron Wilson

When the Houston Ruckening ended late Saturday afternoon after two days of preseason Major League Rugby action, the SaberCats’ comeback attempt against the NOLA Gold ultimately came up short.
Although the SaberCats absorbed a 40-36 loss that doesn’t count in the actual standings, the consensus among the players and coaching staff was universal: This marks a solid starting point for a returning playoff squad still getting acclimated to new personnel on the roster.
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“It’s a preseason game, so things aren’t always going to go the way you want it to,” Gideon van Wyk said. “We have a great team, a great culture, a great bunch of guys. We worked very hard, but there’s always room for improvement.
“It’s a new team. It’s a new culture. It’s like a puzzle that needs its different shapes to fit together. We’ll see the next few games how it goes. A loss is part of the game.”
The SaberCats fell behind early before mounting a late rally that included tries from C.C. Mahoni and Louritz van der Schyff and a kick from Max Luis Schumacher.
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“It’s our first preseason game, so it’s good to get the rustiness out,” Drew Wild said. “We know it’s going to help us. We’re doing the best we can in training. It’s a good place to start.”
There’s a lot of work to be done before next Saturday night’s regular-season opener against the Utah Warriors at SaberCats Stadium.
The knowledge gained Saturday against the Gold is expected to be a valuable learning experience as the team works to build continuity and chemistry after last season’s franchise-record 10 victories.
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“A lot of mistakes, which you expect in a preseason game,” SaberCats director Heyneke Meyer said. “We needed that to get going. We have a lot of new players. I’m definitely not happy with the performance, but we know we’re going to make mistakes. That’s why we needed to play the game. There’s a lot of work to be done before we play Utah.”
“It’s always like this in preseason games and the first games. It’s not an excuse. We did some good things as well. It’s a typical preseason game. It’s just too many mistakes. We wanted to see how we would do under pressure. Obviously, there were a lot of mistakes, but I don’t read too much into preseason games. We do have to improve because Utah has a good side. We scored some good tries, but we need to improve as a team and improve every single game.”
The SaberCats have qualified for two consecutive postseason berths.
They’re not satisfied with merely making the playoffs. They’re looking for a championship.
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“We’re gunning for the season, and this was just the stepping stone.” Christian Dyer said. “There’s a lot of things we can learn from this weekend. We’ll put it into focus. It was a good starting point.”
“It’s definitely a humbling moment. You’re testing your limits. It’s exactly what we needed. I think it’s just ball security. When we held onto the ball, we did some good things. At times, we were our worst enemy in this game. We know exactly what we need to work on for next week.”