‘This is a big game,’ first-place SaberCats host RFC Los Angeles

Jun 8, 2024 | Uncategorized

By Aaron Wilson

Although the SaberCats have already clinched a playoff spot as the first Major League Rugby franchise to accomplish that milestone this season, they have no intentions of becoming complacent.
Their goals remain unchanged: stay hungry and focused, keep improving and hit the postseason in full stride as they pursue the shield, a league championship.
The 11-1 Western Conference division leaders host 4-7-1 RFC Los Angeles on Saturday night at SaberCats Stadium.
Riding a six-match winning streak, the SaberCats have three home matches during the last four weeks of the season, preceding a June 15 match against the Seattle Seawolves and a June 29 match against the Dallas Jackals.
“We’re back home in front of the home crowd,” Nathan Den Hoedt said. “It’s going to be a big game. We’ll start focusing in on that game and looking to start building. We know it’s going to be huge.”
Coming off a 21-7 road victory last week over the Nola Gold, the SaberCats have already established a new franchise record for victories.
The SaberCats lead Major League Rugby with 52 points, seven more than Seattle and 12 more points than the Eastern Conference division leading New England Free Jacks.
Previously this season, the SaberCats defeated RFC Los Angeles, 27-12. And the SaberCats are undefeated in Western Conference division games.
Loose-head prop Ezekiel Lindenmuth and fullback Drew Wild were named First XV for their respective performances against the Gold.
Lindemuth had 11 carries for 55 meters with 14 breakdowns and nine tackles against the Gold as Davy Coetzer made all of his three conversion kicks and had 12 tackles.
“It’s awesome being a part of this program and having everyone buy in and being one and being together,” Dominic Akina said. “It’s awesome because we see the progress. We don’t want to change anything. We keep it to the basics, game by game, day by day, and keep progressing and playing hard every match. It was good, especially with all our plans and coaching and just trusting it game by game and seeing all of this come together.”
Against the Gold, the SaberCats built a lead on tries from Andre Warner, Ronan Murphy and Keni Nasoqeqe.
“I think the key was staying to our plan,” Akina said. “Whoever wins the kicking battle usually wins. We stuck to that and pulled it out in the end. I think the key moments in our kicking game were putting a lot of pressure on our wins to win the ball back and get those contestable wins to be in the best position we can be. Winning those was a huge key in our success. I think we had a lot of key moments on defense with a couple of hits.”
The SaberCats’ flexibility of lineups and deep talent has made all the difference in the outcome of these matches.
“Absolutely, there’s a quite a few of us all buying into the same thing,” Den Hoedt said. “We have multiple leaders on this team, all buying in. We all work well together.”
And the SaberCats keep winning and keep building every week.
“We know our team has a lot of depth,” Akina said. “We know how close the competition is on the team. We keep each other positive. Whoever is out there, we’re pushing them. We’re all on the same page and all in it together.”