SEATTLE — The Utah Warriors again had their comeback effort come up just short, this time in the form of a tough 20-17 loss to the Seattle Seawolves on Thursday.
With the loss, Utah starts the season with two losses by a combined total of just five points, which could best be described as encouraging albeit tough to take for both the players and coaches.
“It’s heartbreaking for us,” said Warrior prop Franco Van Den Berg. “We play really good rugby in short bursts. It’s really about starting a bit earlier and executing throughout the whole match.”
Yet again the Warriors’ best rugby came during the game’s final few minutes, with Bailey Wilson scoring a try in the game’s 70th minute before Chad Gough crossed the try line with just under 78 minutes left to cut the Seawolves’ lead to 20-17.
But as well as Utah ended things, the way things started caused its resilience late to yet again fall just short.
“We really need to play an 80-minute game,” said Warriors assistant coach Shaun Davies. “If we can play 80 minutes like we did the final 15 tonight we’ll be a completely different team.”
Utah did show forth a good first few minutes of the match on Thursday in taking the opening possession and maintaining it for an extended period of time before coming up just short of the try line. Seattle, in turn, was able to counter relatively quickly and seize the momentum to the tune of a 14-3 lead at the break.
Things bogged down considerably at the outset of the second half with multiple game stoppages not allowing either team to gain any decided momentum. Two yellow cards were issued to Seattle during all of it, leading to a good advantage for the Warriors, which they took advantage of.
“We love playing rugby and we love representing Warrior Nation. It’s just that I think we get a little too excited when we get down close, so just having a little bit more composure is what needs to happen.” – Van Den Berg
But two penalty kicks by the Seawolves in the second half, which alternated with Utah’s two tries proved to be just enough to send the Warriors to their second straight loss to begin the season.
Again, the key is putting together top play for the entire match, which involves proving more successful in the scoring zone.
“I think we need just a little more patience,” Van Den Berg said. “We love playing rugby and we love representing Warrior Nation. It’s just that I think we get a little too excited when we get down close, so just having a little bit more composure is what needs to happen.”
Utah will get a chance to show forth better composure when it travels to take on the Austin Gilgronis on February 19. Until then the team will work to tweak a few things, get some much-needed rest and remain positive while realizing there’s a lot of rugby left to play.
“You just see the bond that we (have) on the squad,” Van Den Berg said. “Guys fight for each other and stand up when the game gets tough. When we get fatigued, we stand up and put it all out there. We’ll always be the team that fights.”
Brandon Gurney is the Utah Warriors Team Reporter. With nearly two decades of experience covering BYU Football in print and on radio, Gurney brings a wealth of experience to the Utah Warriors beat. You can read all of Gurney’s stories on the Utah Warriors throughout the 2022 Season at WarriorsRugby.com