Sunny skies and light breezes set the tone for the Houston Sabercats as their 2020 season kicked off at home against the Colorado Raptors. As fans filled the Aveva Stadium, energy and excitement followed! The Cats looks to make their 3rd season their most successful since their inaugural season in 2018. New head Paul Healy coach along with returning and new players, this team is poised for a run at the MLR championship.
Playing at a much higher level than in the previous preseason game that included an injury-riddled team missing key players the Sabercats started the game a lot more intense and precise. An element that lacked during the preseason, this led to the Cats jumping out to an early lead in the first half 13-5, highlighted by a beautiful pitch-to-pitch sequence between Tiaan Loots and Sam Winsor and a successful scrum that led to
Adrian Boyseen pounding in a big try right before the half. The Sabercats did; however, fail to convert on two conversions, one of the few mistakes in the first half.
Usually a sound kicker, Sam Windsor had his difficulties as he missed several penalty kicks and conversions. His response, ” I need time on the field.”
“Time on the field in this stadium, this is a beautiful stadium. The wind blows north, south, east, west so I have to harness the wind and get used to kicking into the wind and against it.”
The dominance of the Sabercats was evident and the energy carried onto the second half. Winning the small battles, limiting mistakes and ultimately spending time in Colorado’s territory provided confidence for the home team.
Defensively, the Cats did an outstanding job limiting time in their territory and making the Raptors work for every inch, in most cases leading to no success. While on a scoring drought, Malaacchi Esdale scored a try on a trick play that gave the Sabercats an 18-5 lead. The Raptors scored a try late to make it a close game, coming within five, 18-13.
With the game still in reach for Colorado, Houston put the match out of reach with a game-sealing penalty kick by Sam Windsor, who missed his previous kicking scoring opportunities. The Sabercats open their season with a win at home, with a final score of 21-12.
Scrum- Half, Dewet Roos called it an amazing feeling to “open the season with a win and especially at home.” With a tremendous improvement on defense, Roos went on to say that “defense is an attitude, we said we needed to focus on a few things, we work hard this past week and it showed today.”
Game one is in the books with fifteen more en route to the playoffs. The Sabercats gave the home crowd a reason to cheer and more importantly, got a point in the win column. The Sabercats’ next game is next Saturday against the Toronto Arrows at Sam Boyd Stadium.