Houston, Tx- The wait is over, the stars were out at Constellation field, and the Houston Sabercats are ready to show the city of Houston they are here to stay and rugby is real. Time to get uncaged!
The home crowd was alive and anxious to see what the team has in store. Even before the game, fans were out tailgating and overall excited the Cats opened the season at home. The reality of the situation is, the Sabercats and rugby is still new to Houston and has some work to do before they can become household names. The best way to get fans interested and gain that support will undeniably be by winning. Winning and on a consistently basis. Give Houston a reason to come out. Cats start tonight against Austin Elite.
The ohs and ahs echoed throughout the stadium exuberantly in favor of the home team. Big hits, fast paced action; quiet frankly shades of confusion on exactly what was going on, pumped energy into Constellation. Nonetheless, the cats came to play. After a good back and forth between the two organizations, the Sabercats struck first from a big run and score by Zach Pangelinan.
One score. Only one score was given in the first forty minutes of an thrilling first half. Sabercats lead Austin Elite 5-0. From a personal experience, I know this is the kind of game Head Coach Justin Fitzpatrick wanted early. Relentless has been his coaching style and motto for as long as he has coached. It doesn’t get more relentless than controlling the game in your favor, scoring and denying your opponents a score. Especially at home.
During the break, I had a chance to speak with some fans to see what’s engaging them and what are they looking for this second season of action. One fan said “I’ve been a season ticket holder since the first game of the first season. I love the action and interaction with the players and meeting the crowd, the overall atmosphere, I love that. It’s really the overall experience”. The support is here, now winning must follow.
The Sabercats start the second half with the possession. After a couple of injuries for the Elite to start the half, frustration built and spilled over which lead to a mini brawl breaking out between Josua Vici and half of the the Elite players. Nothing they were doing stopped the relentlessness of the Cats, which continued to spill over when Matt Trouville punched it in from close, giving the Sabercats the 10-0 lead.
The Elite were able to respond back quickly with a much needed score from Scrumhalf Mickael Romera, which cut the lead down 12-7. The Cats were controlling every aspect of the game to this point of the match and the Elite still needed something to happen to make it game. Captain Ben Mitchell delivered. Not only did they capitalize once, but twice down the the stretch. Elite goes up 14-10. Now, the Sabercats find themselves in unfamiliar territory and were clawing their way back to win the game, with 9 minutes left to play. Now was the time to show the fans who showed up to attend a game in 61 degree weather that you are for real and give them that reason to come back. Will they?
A great game ended in a loss for the Sabercats, 14-10. A couple of missed opportunities and simply not finishing the way they started. Ideally, starting the season off with a home loss in your second season is not the way you want to go but there’s plenty of time to bounce back. The Cats now focus on taking on Glendale Raptors next Saturday, 1/19, on Kid’s night.
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