Warriors get ready to face San Diego at home
HERRIMAN — With just seven games remaining the Utah Warriors come off a bye week this Saturday to take on perhaps their biggest challenge to date when the San Diego Legion comes to town.
The history is rich between the two sides, with tight games and exciting finishes highlighting one of Major League Rugby’s best rivalries, and Saturday’s matchup could provide similar intrigue.
There’s also the fact that San Diego comes to Herriman sitting on top of the Western Conference standings with a gleaming 9-1 record and 45 points, making it a big game for Utah, which stands at 6-3 with 28 points, respectively.
“We know that this is a very big game in the context of our season,” said Utah Warriors coach Greg Cooper. “A positive result will put us in a good position with a number of home games to go, and we obviously want to protect that home record.”
The result the first time around versus the Legion didn’t go so well.
But although Utah dropped a 33-17 decision to San Diego during the first week of the season, much has changed since.
“We knew we were competitive against them, and we’ve improved a lot since then,” Cooper said. “Obviously they’ve improved as well and they’re a team with a lot of confidence that can score when given the opportunity.”
Indeed the Warriors have progressively shown better with each week since, generally, and used a bye week to lick some wounds stemming from a tough loss to Old Glory DC to prepare for the final seven-game stretch of the season.
“It was more about mental refreshing and making sure we did our individual training,” Cooper said. “But it was more of a mental breakaway to make sure we’re ready for our homeward stretch of the final seven games of the season.”
It was also a chance to get healthy, which Cooper believes his team is, relatively, as he expects to field perhaps his healthiest lineup for some time.
“We’ve been fortunate and we believe we’ve picked a strong lineup for this game,” Cooper said. “We have a lot of guys coming back off injury, and so this game here is one where I think we’ll be relatively at full strength.”
Cooper and his players obviously have tremendous respect for San Diego’s high-octane attack and stout defense, but again the focus will be on what they do, as a team, to limit the Legion’s opportunities.
“I think the biggest thing, for us, is not to allow them those easy opportunities that we gave to them in that first game,” Cooper said. “That’s been a bit of an issue for us. We might score and defend well, but then relax just a little and a good side like San Diego we have to stay on for 80 minutes.”
UTAH WARRIORS VS. SAN DIEGO LEGION
DATE: SATURDAY, MAY 6
TIME: 7:30 PM MT
WHERE: ZIONS BANK STADIUM
BROADCAST: KMYU, TRN, 92.1 KOOL FM, ESPN960, ESPN700, KSLSPORTS.COM
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