The Utah Warriors fell to the LA Giltinis 38-27 in a physical matchup between the top two teams in Major League Rugby’s Western Division standings entering Week Nine.
The game, which was played at SoFi Stadium, lived up to the hype as the Warriors and Giltinis combined for over 60 points and nine tries.
“It was the challenging match that we anticipated,” said Warriors’ Head Coach Shawn Pittman. “LA gave us plenty of opportunities to be in contention but multiple errors let us down. The boys showed a ton of courage in the last 15 minutes, getting us a for-try bonus point which allows us to remain in the hunt for the playoffs.”
While the Warriors were able to hold LA under their MLR leading average of 42 points per game, it wasn’t quite enough to stop MLR’s most potent offense.
“I thought we defended really well in broken field play and we stopped a lot of their first phase attack plays, which is where LA is the most dangerous,” said Pittman. “But we gave them great field position with penalties and errors which allowed them to score 38 points.”
Utah held a slight 8-7 advantage in the early minutes, but 24 unanswered points proved to be the difference as LA never relinquished their 24-8 halftime lead. After the Giltinis got the scoring underway, the Warriors added two tries courtesy of James Vaifale and Jurie van Vuuren to cut LA’s lead to 31-20, although LA answered with a try of their own in the 73rd minute to put the game out of reach.
“Holding onto the ball was key for us in the second half,” said Warriors’ Assistant Coach Shaun Davies. “We played beautiful rugby when we were able to get ball-in-hand, which allowed us to find some success in the second half but unfortunately we were unable to do that for a full 80-minutes.”
The Warriors now turn their attention to New Orleans as Utah is back on the road next Saturday in search of a victory over the 4-3-1 NOLA Gold.
“We need to take confidence from this game and realize that we are one of the more physical teams in the MLR,” said Pittman. “As we transition to NOLA, with them being one of the better attacking teams, defense will once again play a large role and be a vital part to our success in that match.”