Warriors down Dallas behind Danny Christensen’s hat trick
DALLAS — No backup for Danny Christensen traveled to take on the Dallas Jackals, with coaches intent on giving him the entire 80 minutes to man the Scrum half position.
And Christensen proved he didn’t need one in spectacular fashion.
The Utah product scored three tries on the evening, leading the Utah Warriors to a 33-5 win over the Jackals to wrap up the 2022 on a definite high note.
“Honestly it was a dream come true. I’m a lucky guy,” Christensen said. “My teammates set me up…so I’m a lucky guy.”
Christensen’s first try came in the 34th minute to give the Warriors a 7-5 lead entering the half.
His second try came by virtue of an impressive run out from Joe Mano and a brilliant assist courtesy of Caleb Makene during the 52nd minute to extend Utah’s lead to 14-5.
Utah then took complete control just a minute later with Tyler Fisher benefiting from an impressive run and then assist from Thomas Tu’avao to take a commanding 21-5 lead..
Throughout all of it was a stingy defensive effort that basically came by, well, not defending. Indeed the Warriors dominated possession throughout, as top Warrior defender Bailey Wilson noted.
“I think it was just staying in the fight,” Wilson said. “I think holding on to the ball for a good amount, even though there were some handling errors, we were able to get the ball back pretty quick. So we really didn’t have to defend too much.”
Christensen topped off his evening with a try in the 62nd minute that came off of an assist from a hard-charging Paul Lasike, giving the Warriors a 28-5 lead.
For Christensen, Saturday night’s effort came following two games where he wasn’t even listed in the lineup, which made the performance all the more sweet.
“It was honestly the best thing that could have happened to me at the end of the season,” Christensen said. “It was definitely frustrating, and I had a lot of hard conversations with the coaches about why I wasn’t getting time…So I got one last shot, and did my best.”
“I kind of puts a stamp on the way I played throughout the year,” Christensen continued. “There were some frustrating games, but it’s really nice to end the season with a game with a decent performance with being set up by teammates that I’ve sweated and grinded with for months.”
Finishing off the scoring for Utah was Mano off an assist from Mikey Te’o after the 80th minute to give Utah a 33-5 lead, which proved the final.
The win gives Utah a 5-11 record to end an otherwise frustrating yet rewarding season, and is the second-most wins in franchise history.
Throughout all the highs and lows of the season has been a fanbase that has remained fiercely loyal and supportive, which players and coaches readily notice.
“The support has been unreal,” Christensen said. “I think we were 2-9 at one point and still selling out our stadium. We still have far and away the most fans in Major League Rugby. We’re so grateful for the fans and they make all the difference in the world.”
As for the players, they never showed any quit despite all the adverse circumstances, which players believe will aid them moving forward to the 2023 season.
“I’m just really proud of the boys for sticking (with it),” Wilson said. “It’s easy to drop your head when things like this happen. So I’m just super proud for the boys, the coaches and the staff for staying bought in and not giving up.”
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