Warriors Selects fall to MPD All-Stars
Herriman, Utah — The Utah Warriors Selects started their inaugural Fall Series campaign with a hotly contested loss last night, which saw the Rugby Utah Men’s Premier Division All-Stars victorious by the score of 28-13.
A sold-out Zions Bank Stadium crowd saw the Selects take an early lead by the score of 10-0. However, four second-half tries by the MPD All-Stars to the Selects’ lone penalty goal saw that lead squandered at the full-time whistle.
Director of Rugby Brandon Sparks pointed out that his new and young squad was still figuring out how to work with each other but acknowledged that the MPD All-Stars showed their mettle not only in effort but in talent.
“It was a great showing by the MPD, and it was great to see the game played with good sportsmanship,” Sparks said. “They earned the win. On the Selects side, we definitely are going to use this as a learning experience. This loss also serves as a great opportunity for us as an organization to assess players moving forward. Though it’s early, this program is proving to be a good development tool.”
The opening half of scoring started with Jared Leuta-Markey dotting down in the 23rd minute after the MPD All-Stars pressure was relieved through some quality multi-phase rugby.
The highlight of the Warriors’ night was the solo effort from wing James Vaifale, who beat six MPD All-Star tacklers to score the second and final try of the game for the Selects in the 40th minute, just before halftime.
The Selects led up through the 65th minute, 13-7, but they were overturned with the four-try second-half surge by the MPD All-Stars.
“This was a great game for our guys,” said Men’s Premier Division Vice President Willie Stewart. “They showed they really wanted to impress and that they could play some great rugby. We’re thankful for the Warriors for providing these players this opportunity and hope it’s the start of more opportunities like this.”
Last night’s game marks the first time the Warriors Selects faced-off against the MPD All-Stars, a team composed of the best local men’s club players in Utah. With many of the Warriors Selects hailing from or tied to many Men’s Premier Division clubs and their young domestic talent, the match was a community event, marking the unique history and tradition of the sport in Utah.
“This was such a great event for this state,” said Utah Warriors CEO and GM Kimball Kjar. “Despite the score, this game was a victory for this rugby community. Some of our Selects saw what they need to improve on and that you have to earn everything against good competition. But, you also saw that you can never count a talented team of rugby players from Utah out. That’s what makes this state so exciting and unique, and we’re so grateful to have been able to host this match.”
The Warriors Selects travel to Atlanta, GA next week to face-off with fellow MLR partner Rugby ATL and their respective development team, dubbed the “404.” The game against the 404 is set for Oct. 31 at 2pm ET. Streaming details are TBD.
SCORING SUMMARY: Selects vs. MPD All-Stars (Oct. 23, 2020)
23’ Markey 5 (Selects)
40’ Vaifale 5 (Selects)
Halftime Score: Selects—10 MPD—0
47’ Saulala 3
54’ MPD 5, MPD 2
67’ MPD 5, MPD 2
70’ MPD 5, MPD 2
78’ MPD 5, MPD 2
Final Score: Selects—13 MPD—28
WARRIORS SELECTS ROSTER: (Open Substitutions)
1 Sam Ciancutti
2 Mike Payne
3 Zephir Lambert
4 Kal Kistner
5 James Mocke
6 Nick Andiarena
7 Mike Giesselman
8 Charlie Hola
9 Danny Christiansen
10 Tosh Wilcox
11 James Vaifale
12 Tomasi Tonga
13 Sione Tauataina
14 Aaron Wade
15 Jared Leuta-Markey
16 Scott Strong
17 Raz’han Reed
18 Elijah Hayes
19 Ty Goss
20 Bobby Tu’avao
21 Dylan James
22 Tosh Wilcox
23 Jacob Kilingelsmith
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