Warriors show fight but fall to league’s top team, New England
QUNICY, MASS. — Nothing comes easy verus the New England Free Jacks, and the Utah Warriors certainly learned as much on Saturday in a 33-17 loss to the MLR’s top team in the standings.
Despite some resilient and inspired play, the Warriors again found themselves on the losing end for their sixth straight loss. The game featured some early miscues, some debilitating injuries, but perhaps most of all a fighting resilience that belies all the problems Utah has incurred this season.
“We just have to focus on the positives,” said Warriors team captain Bailey Wilson. “It’s easy to get discouraged, but we just have to believe in the process and keep building into (each) week.”
The positives in Saturday’s loss included two brilliant tries, the first scored by Caleb Makene, benefitting from a long run and assist from 2021 MLR MVP Mikey Te’o to end the first half, while cutting the Free Jacks’ lead to 14-10.
— Warriors DubCast (@WarriorsDubCast) April 30, 2022
New England then jumped out to a 21-10 lead early in the second half before the injuries started piling up for the Warriors.
First man down was forward ‘Olive Kilifi, who left in the 62nd minute with an apparent leg injury. Just three minutes later saw fellow forward Franco Van Den Berg lay motionless on the field before requiring a cart to take him off.
“It’s very unfortunate to see the boys go down. It’s not what you want to see on either side, for us or for them,” Wilson said. “But the only thing you can do in that situation is try and get tighter as a group and play for those guys who are out.”
Indeed Utah did respond well with Joe Mano scoring a try in the game’s 70th minute, cutting the lead to 26-17 after a Calvin Whiting conversion kick.
As for Van Den Berg, he was evaluated at a hospital and was found alert and able to move, fortunately, before flying home with the team.
But despite Utah’s bolt of momentum, New England responded in kind, as top teams tend to do, scoring a try in the 74th minute to go up 33-17 and all but effectively end the game.
“Against the top team in the league, you let it slip or you take the pressure off, then they’re going to take their opportunities, and they did,” Wilson said.
— Utah Warriors Rugby (@utwarriorsrugby) April 30, 2022
With the loss Utah falls to 2-9 on the season and will look to rebound when taking on Rugby ATL next Saturday at home. As for the goal, players will take the positives from the loss to New England while looking to improve with each passing week.
“They guys never felt like they were out of it,” said Warriors forward Jurie Van Vuuren about Saturday’s effort. “The guys feel like they’re improving every week little by little. So it’s about putting together pieces each week, building on them and then finishing as strong as possible.”
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
The Rugby Alliance Officially Formed: Stade Toulousain and Utah Warriors Unite to Elevate Rugby to New Heights
SALT LAKE CITY (Sept. 21, 2023) – Stade Toulousain, led by President
Largest Scrum in History Bested Guinness World Record after USA Eagles Victory over Stade Toulousain
SALT LAKE CITY (Sept. 17, 2023) – A new Guinness World Record
SANDY, Utah (September 15, 2023) — Five Utah Warriors athletes will pull
Due to Public Demand, Matchup Between the USA Men’s Rugby Team and France’s Stade Toulousain is Rescheduled to Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.
SALT LAKE CITY (Aug. 21, 2023) – Due to public demand, the
HERRIMAN, Utah (August 17, 2023) — The Utah Warriors have selected Josh