Warriors finish off 2023 season with win over New York
MOUNT VERNON, NY. — The Utah Warriors put together one of their best road performances of the year in rushing past the New York Ironworkers 43-33 on Sunday.
Despite having been eliminated from playoff contention the week prior, the Warriors kept a positive attitude throughout, and all of that showed in Sunday’s performance. From the start Utah showed accurate and physical before setting the tone within the first few minutes of the second half.
“When we were under pressure we sucked up our bellies and we were strong,” said Warriors coach Greg Cooper. “We attacked well, put pressure on (them), and defended when we needed to. We obviously gave away a few, but I thought it was a good attitude right until the end.”
Utah was down several key contributors entering the match — most notably leading scorer Joe Mano and Mika Kruse, who were replaced by Jesse Hamilton in his MLR debut and Cliven Loubser, respectively.
Both replacements proved solid and even electric throughout, with Loubser accounting for two tries and Hamilton one, with both receiving praise from Cooper, along with the general attitude of his team.
“We relied a lot today on the unity of the team and accuracy to get us through,” Cooper said.
Henry Bell led off the scoring, punching through a try off a maul situation for a 5-0 lead in the sixth minute.
New York took a 7-5 lead with a try and conversion kick just six minutes later before Loubser recorded his first try off an assist from Caleb Makene. A failed conversion kick saw Utah take a narrow 10-7 lead.
From there the teams again traded tries, with Loubser logging his second try in the 34th minute to give Utah a 17-14 lead before New York surged ahead 19-17 with a try right before the half.
The second half, as mentioned, is where Utah really put its mark on the match. Playing down one man as Saia ‘Uhila finished off his time in the sin bin, the Warriors went to work, scoring tries within the first six minutes of the second half to take a commanding 31-19 lead.
The first try came by way of Joel Hodgson taking advantage of a turnover for a long run-out toward the try line three minutes before Calvin Whiting did pretty much the same as Utah took control of the match.
“Things went well because we stuck with what we knew,” Cooper said. “We talk about ‘Utah-built’ — about never giving in and the opportunities presented themselves and we were accurate enough today to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Jurie Van Vuuren contributed a try for Utah before Hamilton finished things off in style, touching the ball in the try zone to finish off the game’s final possession and indeed the season in style.
For Cooper, he lended a lot of praise for his team and the player’s overall attitude in tying a franchise-best 10 wins on the year with the win.
“We have a lot to build on in the future with a result like that,” Cooper said.
Utah finishes the season with a 10-6 mark while New York drops to 8-8, but will enter the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference regardless.
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