Warriors win at home in last 2024 matchup at Zions Bank Stadium

HERRIMAN — The beginning and the end of the Utah Warrior’s 50-46 win over the Dallas Jackals were downright ugly for the home team, but the 40 minutes of play in between was absolutely spectacular.

Down 24-5 at the outset, the Warriors reeled off 45 straight points, and in so doing gave the Zions Bank Stadium home crowd quite the show.

“The start was awful. The end was awful. But the middle was sublime,” said Warriors coach Greg Cooper.

Tries were scored in rapid succession, with Tuvere Vugakoto dotting the ball down in the scoring zone in the 26th minute to begin the run, and then Michael Manson topping things off with a try in the 65th minute to increase Utah’s lead to 50-24.

“It was a little bit of a slap in the face, at first, but the boys got hissing,” said Manson. “We started to have a lot of fun and it was a great day…We got a fire in our belly and we have nothing to lose, so the boys just had some fun.”

As with most strong scoring outputs by Utah, Manson was in the middle of all of it, acquiring the elusive hat trick with three tries scored in the 33rd, 55th and 65th minute as Utah’s back line proved dangerous and in prime form.

The Warriors haven’t had their top backs all together for too much of the season, and on Saturday were missing star winger Mika Kruse, but did pose some rare firepower. Players such as Joe Mano, Paul Lasike and Caleb Makene, joining with Keiran McClea, Joel Hodgson and Lopeti Aisea forged some truly spectacular play that regrettably hasn’t occurred enough this season.

“It’s so much fun playing on this back line when we’re all together,” Manson said. “We’ve had a few injuries, so we haven’t been together for a while, but when we are it’s good fun.”

“We’ve really struggled to get our combinations going this year,” Cooper added. “This is the first time that we’ve actually had a lot of experienced players playing…It was good to get it out there, and we could have had better defense, but we wanted to entertain. We wanted to throw the ball around, score tries and give a little bit back to the fans.”

Just about everyone shined at certain junctures of Utah’s spectacular run, including McClea, who scored tries in the 28th and 33rd minutes, with the latter try providing quite the highlight. With Dallas threatening to score deep in Utah territory, McClea intercepted an attempted off-load and managed to outrun the entire Dallas Jackal team en route to placing the ball down in the try zone.

“I told him that if he didn’t make that in that there was going to be a problem,” Manson said with a laugh. “So he’s got wheels on him. His little legs can move, but he’s a great man and if he didn’t finish that off he was going to get an earful.”

Joe Mano, who has struggled mightily with injuries this year scored Utah’s other try in the 43rd minute courtesy of an off-load from Hodgson.

With postseason play in impossibility, Utah was keen on finishing off strong despite the 2024 season’s disappointments.

“It’s our pride that we had to leave out there,” Manson said. “So we wanted to finish on a high. We have one more next week and it would be great to finish it off with another win. It’s been a (tough) season, but we want to finish off and have some fun.”

With the win Utah improves to 5-10 on the season and will finish off the 2024 Major League Rugby campaign with a game versus RFC Los Angeles at America First Field next Saturday.


"I was able to bring my family to three games. It was a lot of fun for all the kids, my wife, and myself. The atmosphere is very family-friendly for even my youngest kids. I had 4 children attend the pregame Jr. Warriors clinics on 2 separate occasions; they had a lot of fun with those experiences and it was a very positive and encouraging environment."