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Warriors Drop Home Game to San Diego

June 5, 2024 - Major League Rugby (MLR)
Utah Warriors News Release

HERRIMAN - The Utah Warriors dropped a heartbreaking 27-20 decision to the San Diego Legion on Saturday despite showing extraordinary resolve in dealing with a load of adversity.

Up 20-13 with just over five minutes remaining, Utah gave up two tries to the Legion, with the final one coming on the game's final possession as time expired.

"It would have been an incredible way to come off with all the adversity that we were having to go through, and to have won that game - that's what disappoints me the most," said Warriors coach Greg Cooper. "Not so much losing - we're certainly disappointed with that, but putting ourselves in a position against all those odds, and then we didn't win it."

Utah entered the match without the services of top players such as Mika Kruse, Franco Van Den Berg, Spencer Jones, Joe Mano, Sione Mahe and Paul Lasike, the latter of whom was pulled from the lineup after sustaining a hamstring injury during warmups. The course of the match saw top players such as Caleb Makene leave the field with injury, along with more than several others.

It all forced Cooper to readjust his lineup considerably, and although several of the fill-ins played their hearts out, it proved too much to overcome in the end.

"My biggest disappointment was we found a way to lose the match against all odds that we were going to win it," Cooper said.

With regards to the bevy of injuries, Cooper isn't a coach who typically uses them as an excuse, but given the immense predicament ushered in by the notable absences, Cooper merely stated the obvious when asked how it affected his team.

"It was enormous," Cooper said. "We started out (with significant injuries) and it just got worse and worse."

Things started off great for Utah, which showed little to no rust coming off a bye week in building a quick 10-0 lead after 15 minutes of play. Zion Going scored Utah's first try after being set up by a run just short of the try line by Paul Mullen in the 10th minute before Joel Hogdson added a penalty kick in the 15th.

San Diego then responded with a try in the 25th minute and a penalty kick in the 30th to draw even at 10-10 at the break.

The Legion surged ahead 13-10 after a penalty kick shortly after halftime before Keiren McClea scored consecutive tries in the 48th and 61st minutes to give Utah a 20-13 lead after both conversion kicks were missed.

But San Diego found holes in Utah's defense at inopportune times in the closing five minutes to take an improbable win that left Cooper clearly discouraged at game's end.

"I'm disappointed with the loss, but mainly because we showed so much courage against a very good side," Cooper said. "...We're leading with five minutes to go and...then we lose the game."

With the loss Utah falls to 4-8 on the season with 27 total points after accruing the one point for losing by seven points or less. San Diego improves to 8-4 on the season with the win.

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