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Utah Warriors Face NOLA on the Road

March 18, 2023 - Major League Rugby (MLR)
Utah Warriors News Release

Utah Warriors's Mika Kruse in action
Utah Warriors's Mika Kruse in action
(Utah Warriors)

NEW ORLEANS - A lack of overall aggression and too many missed opportunities conspired in handing the Utah Warriors a tough 37-14 defeat at the hands of the NOLA Gold on Saturday.

It all led to NOLA making a match-defining spurt during the final 20 minutes of the first half in taking a commanding 25-0 lead into the break.

"There was just a collection of individual errors - stuff that shouldn't be happening," said Warriors wing Mika Kruse. "We just let one bad thing turn into another bad thing and didn't stop it early."

One key moment came when a hard-charging Paul Lasike crossed the try line midway through the first half, but was unable to touch the ball down, which NOLA quickly took advantage of - scoring two tries quickly thereafter to build the 25 point margin at the half.

While Lasike coming up just short stung, it was just one of many things that went wrong, according to Warriors Coach Greg Cooper.

"We didn't control possession," Cooper said. "And then we were a bit passive when they had possession. We didn't come at them aggressively enough."

The Warriors did manage to play NOLA on even terms during the second half, despite hooker Tuvere Vugakoto receiving a red card in the 52nd minute and then scrum half Zion Going being issued a yellow card in the 76th minute.

"It's one of those performances where you either drop your head and capitulate, or you show hard," Cooper said. "So we showed some good heart in the second half."

Utah's first score of the match came with Lance Williams crossing the try line in the 49th minute off an assist from Kruse, cutting the lead to 25-7.

The second score came via Kruse receiving a deft assist from fly half Joel Hodgson in the 73rd minute to cut the lead to 30-14.

Kruse was a standout on the day for the Warriors, with Cooper recognizing the veteran player's contributions made in a variety of roles.

"He was good at the wing, and he was great at center," Cooper said. "I think he's shown some great signs at center and we'll look to give him more opportunity there because he is a linebreaker."

Although pleased with the second half effort, Cooper's thoughts will squarely be on what went wrong in the first half as the team looks to rebound at home next Saturday versus the Toronto Arrows.

"There's a lot of things to look at, and it's one of those games where I need to do close analysis," Cooper said. "But we allowed them to play instead of taking the game to them. They dominated the breakdown area because we weren't aggressive enough."

With the loss Utah falls to 2-2 on the season and hopes to take advantage of playing three of its next four matches at home. NOLA improves to 2-3 on the year with the win.

Images from this story

Utah Warriors's Mika Kruse in action
Utah Warriors's Mika Kruse in action


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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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