TORERO STADIUM — San Diego Legion put on a strong show in their first home match against the Houston SaberCats on April 7, 2018, scoring two sweeping tries and keeping the powerful SaberCats set piece at bay for over an hour. Houston, playing their 11th preseason match to date, showed late-match stamina to take victory, but it was our team’s tenacity in the first 60 minutes that energized a boisterous legion of San Diego fans.
A quick start for San Diego Legion put immediate pressure on Houston, forcing the SaberCats to concede a penalty in the third minute. San Diego fly-half, Tadhg Leader, opted to kick for points. The ensuing attempt sailed a meter wide of the right post.
The match turned into an attritional battle in the 10 minutes that followed with San Diego and Houston trading big tackles across the pitch. The San Diego Legion backline, led by scrum-half Nate Augspurger, gave Major League Rugby a glimpse of its firepower with ball in hand. Center Ben Cima and winger Taku Ngwenya cut up the SaberCats defense to put San Diego on the front foot several times, but the home side were unable to capitalize on their opportunities.
Sabercats took the lead in the 11th minute with a quick counter-attacking try, but it wasn’t long before our team were back attacking in Houston’s half. A rumbling set of phases from the San Diego forwards opened just enough space for #8 Cam Dolan to cross over for the try. Cima added the conversion to tie the score at 7-7.
It remained tied until the stroke of halftime when Houston were penalized at the breakdown 25 meters from their own try line. Tadhg Leader’s second attempt at goal sailed straight through the uprights, giving San Diego a 10-7 lead at the halftime break.
In the minutes of the second half, this same attritional battle was displayed in the end of the first half. SD Legion and the SaberCats continued to trade spells of possession, running deep into each other‘s halves before ultimately being repulsed. The deadlock was broken in the 54th minute when Cima, unexpectedly finding himself with room to run, streaked down the middle of the field towards the Houston line. Cima found our captain, Augspurger, in space with a perfect pass to give San Diego their second try and a 17-7 lead.
The SaberCats showed their experience and stamina in the final quarter of the match, and were able to slowly turn the tide in their favor, winning by a final score of 33-17. Despite succumbing to Houston’s late-match onslaught, SD Legion fought to keep momentum against the waves of yellow running at them. The grit and tenacity shown by our players gave SD Legion fans in attendance plenty of hope for the regular season ahead.
San Diego will take plenty of positives from this match as they approach their first regular-season clash against the Seattle Seawolves on April 22 in Seattle. Tickets for our 2018 home opener against the Utah Warriors are still available. Learn more and get yours today at sdlegion.com/tickets.