Warriors Look To Get Boost From Home Crowd vs Dallas
HERRIMAN — Bailey Wilson broke into a big smile at the question, and it’s easy to see why.
The Utah Warriors are set to play in their home opener this Saturday versus the Dallas Jackals after a much-welcomed bye week. For Wilson, who moved to Utah from Australia when he was 14, the prospect of playing at Zions Bank Stadium is always a welcome one, but perhaps even more so this time around.
“I couldn’t explain how excited I am,” Wilson, who is the Warriors team captain, said. “I’ve been thinking about this moment ever since I stepped off the field after our last game here last season. The vibes are great this week.”
That last game at Zions Bank Stadium saw the Warriors take a thrilling 34-29 win over the Los Angeles Gilitinis before advancing to the postseason where they took a tough 17-13 loss to the Gilitinis in Los Angeles.
This time it will be an effort to secure their first win of the season, after taking three straight tough losses to tough opponents on the road. But with a truly special home field advantage and the season still in its early stages, Wilson and his teammates are confident in the prospect of turning things around with the help of the home crowd.
“Zions Bank is such a great place for us to play,” Wilson said. “The fans are vocal and really get into it. It’s a great atmosphere and great scenery. It’s unreal, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
The Jackals have seen their own struggles in the early season as a first-year expansion team. Dallas comes to Utah having lost its first four matches of the year, although players and coaches know records can be deceiving.
“They’re a very good team,” said Warriors coach Shawn Pittman of Saturday’s opponent. “Even with the rough start they’ve had, you can see that they’re a very solid side. Teams do put points early on them, but in the back end of games, they’re in it. They’re involved with a constant effort.”
Much of the same could be said for Pittman’s team, considering slow starts preempting strong finishes from providing winning results in all three of the team’s losses.
But coming off a much-welcomed bye week, coupled with the prospect of finally playing in front of a home crowd, has everyone involved re-energized with a sort of sense of the beginning of a new season.
“I think at the start of the season when we saw that bye being the fourth week, we weren’t too happy, but I think it’s come at a really good time,” Wilson said. “We took some time off and were able to rest…boys are really keen on getting back out there this weekend.”
Areas of focus for the Warriors has been improving their line out, which was a major problem in their most recent loss to the Austin Gilgronis, among other tweaks. Helping out tremendously with the coaching has been the addition of assistant coach Robbie Abel, who was finally able to clear his work visa to help coach the forwards close to two weeks ago.
“It’s definitely been a lot less stressful, to be honest,” Pittman said of the addition of Abel, who played and coached in New Zealand before arriving in Utah. “Robbie has been amazing for us. Not only is he a new voice for our team, but he brings a lot of new content and ideas from a different culture of rugby. So it’s really good and we love him.”
“He’s helped tremendously and he’s been a great addition,” added Wilson. “The boys love him and listen to everything he says. He’s put a lot of knowledge into the team.”
UTAH WARRIORS VS. DALLAS JACKALS
Date: Saturday, March 5
Time: 12:00 PM MT
Where: Herriman, Utah
Broadcast: KMYU, The Rugby Network, KSLsports.com
Radio: ESPN 700 and ESPN 960
Brandon Gurney is the Utah Warriors Team Reporter. With nearly two decades of experience covering BYU Football in print and on radio, Gurney brings a wealth of experience to the Utah Warriors beat. You can read all of Gurney’s stories on the Utah Warriors throughout the 2022 Season at WarriorsRugby.com
Only 48 Hours till we are back in front of Warriors Nation!
Make sure you get your tickets to this Saturday's match at Zions Bank Stadium and find out why fans love Utah Warriors Rugby.#ForTheNation
— Utah Warriors Rugby (@utwarriorsrugby) March 3, 2022
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