‘Perfect way to start the season,’ SaberCats defeat Utah Warriors

Mar 3, 2024 | Uncategorized

By Aaron Wilson

Standing across from his new teammates Saturday night, Lock and Captain Johan Momsen had a great vantage point to see and hear the fireworks lighting up the sky above him at SaberCats Stadium.
The SaberCats had a lot to be happy about following the opening game of the season.
They manufactured a strong performance with a 22-15 victory over the Utah Warriors.
“It was the plan to come out firing and to put the pressure on them,” said Momsen, a first-team Major League Rugby selection acquired in a trade from the Atlanta franchise. “We executed well at the beginning. Utah has always been a physical team. We knew we had to match them or beat them at that. We stuck to our guns in the second half, but a lot of errors, lot of penalties, discipline let us down a little bit.
“It’s a perfect way to start the season. Fireworks, it makes us excited for the rest of the season and it was great to have the fans out here.”
The SaberCats, pushing for a third consecutive playoff appearance and winning season, are 1-0 after building a 15-3 halftime lead and then holding on to win the match.
New SaberCats center Tautalatasi Tasi scored a try and was named the Live Oak Man of the Match.
His athleticism and experience were big factors for the SaberCats, who set a franchise record with 10 victories last season and have a revamped roster that includes several talented newcomers like Tasi, Momsen and others.
“Very honored,” Tasi said. “It’s my first game for the club. I hope it sets the tone for the season. We have a whole new squad this year with really good depth. We’re just trying t to play smart and when you get your chance, do your best.”
The game got close in the second half, but the SaberCats held on during an exciting night of rugby that included the fireworks show afterward, a post-game social mixing with fans, the first match since partnering with Platypus Brewing and a great performance from Grammy Award winner Rick Trevino.
“It’s a very good start,” coach Pote Human said. “In the first half, the forwards played unbelievably well, the best performance by the forwards for the SaberCats since I’ve been here. I’m very happy with our performance. In the second half, the discipline cost us the lead. Too many penalties. It’s only our first game. I’m very happy with the result.”
Human emphasized that Momsen and Tasi’s additions are key factors for the team
“Phenomenal player, he came late into our system,” Human said of Momsen. “Phenomenal guy. Tasi was unbelievable. You can see why everyone thinks so highly of him.”
As for the SaberCats’ tight-knit culture, Human said it’s obvious for anyone around the squad.
“You can feel it,” he said. “The guys are very close to each other and play for each other.”
The SaberCats, who lost in the Western Conference eliminator playoff round to the Seattle Seawolves last season, absorbed 30-24 and 34-28 losses last season to the Warriors.
This time, they got the best of them to finish on top of the scoreboard.
“It always start up front,” Pono Davis said. “The boys showed what we can do. We’ve got to keep the gas on the pedal. Everybody is chasing for the shield. That’s our goal.”
After the match, wing Jeremy Misailegalu was sporting nine stitches across his eyebrow after catching a cleat to the face.
“I went and chased the ball and the dude stuck his cleat out last second and caught a metal stud,” he said. “I got the stiches and we’re good. I’m just happy. I could only hear the game from the medical area. It was great to hear the fans go crazy. Great atmosphere. I missed the fireworks, but I could hear them.”
SaberCats director Heyneke Meyer has assembled a talented team with several newcomers and returning players. He’s encouraged by the start and eager to see continual improvement along with a humble approach to success. The SaberCats played much better than they did in a preseason loss to the NOLA Gold last week.
“The atmosphere was great, I’m thankful for the crowd,” Meyer said. “It was a great start because last week we didn’t play well. We didn’t beat Utah last year. I’m very happy with the start. I’m very, very happy about the win. We need to stay humble and keep working.”