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Utah Suffers Tough Loss in Seattle

June 10, 2024 - Major League Rugby (MLR)
Utah Warriors News Release

SEATTLE - A decimated Utah Warriors team was routed by the Seattle Seawolves on Sunday 68-29.

Injuries have wreaked havoc on the Warriors this season and all of it seemed to come to a head on the road versus one of the Major League Rugby Competition's top teams. The result was a route that was as one-sided as the final score would indicate.

"I don't know what to say, to be honest, but we obviously didn't have a lot of players here," said Warriors Coach Greg Cooper when asked to sum up the lopsided loss. "It was an introduction for a lot of players against a very good Seattle side, and we just weren't anywhere near what we needed to be."

The Seawolves took control of the match early and often, jumping out to an early 14-0 lead after just eight minutes of play. That lead was extended to 35-3 after 30 minutes of play before Warriors forward Fantongia Paea managed to touch the ball down in the try zone to cut the lead to 35-10 in the 32nd minute.

But the momentum turned sharply back to Seattle shortly thereafter as the home team built a commanding 49-10 lead into the half. The first half of play, and indeed the entire match, saw Seattle take advantage of multiple miscues from the Warriors and quickly turn those mistakes into points.

"We had a new backline and obviously couldn't get into it," Cooper said. "The forwards were the part of the game that we really needed them to be in control, but we gave up too many tries and just couldn't get into the game."

Indeed Utah's entire backline was presented with several new names, and while they showed flashes of good play, Seattle's consistent execution proved too much to overcome.

The second half went largely like the first, although Utah did manage tries scored by Michael Manson and Jesse Hamilton in the 48th and 55th minutes respectively before finishing off its scoring with a penalty try called in the 78th minute to cut the lead to 61-29. But Seattle once again responded almost immediately, intercepting an attempted pass to score a relatively easy try after a long runout for the final score of 68-29.

"They have a super rugby backline, and they really exposed us when they had the ball," Cooper said. "So it's something we'll learn from and get better for it. That's for sure."

With the loss Utah drops to 4-9 on the season with just three games remaining on the regular season. Making the postseason would take nothing short of a miracle for a Utah team that showed brilliant at certain junctures of the season before being overwhelmed with a massive rash of injuries.

"We came in to win, and we didn't want to make excuses for the players not available," Cooper summed up. "It's obviously going to be a different level for a lot of players, and obviously those players found it was a significant leap against one of the better teams, so we're obviously disappointed."

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