Windsor’s Boot Proves the Difference in Austin
What this game lacked in free-flowing attacking rugby it certainly made up for it by a providing a tight and nail-biting affair in the first game of the season.
It didn’t take long for the Sabercats to get on to the scoreboard. After the kickoff, the Sabercats knocked on the ball which led to a scrum just outside the Austin 22m. A strong scrum from the Sabercats meant a penalty was awarded and Windsor made no mistake from the tee. 3-0 to the Sabercats.
From the ensuing kickoff, Austin brought some good defensive pressure which led to a turnover. Austin then put some solid phases together and forced a ruck penalty from the Sabercats. Romera missed the penalty kick opportunity and the score remained 3-0 to the Sabercats. A period of strong forward play brought a penalty and Windsor duly converted. 6-0 to the Sabercats.
The rain continued to come down harder at Dell Diamond leading both teams becoming increasingly conservative in their attack. A string of penalties and a pinpoint touch finder by Guillimin gave the Elite a lineout on the Houston 5m line. The Elite set a solid maul and after some patience, they were able to drive the ball over the try line for the games first try. Romera converted the try to bring the score to 7-6 to the Elite.
A slow last 20min of the 1st half saw Windsor convert two more penalties. On the stroke of halftime, The Elite was able to bring one back with a converted penalty from Romera, bring the halftime score to 10-12 for the Sabercats.
The first 20min of the 2nd half was much of the same, forward runners dominating the play and then a kicking battle. Houston and Windsor showed good tactical awareness in this period leading to another converted penalty. 15-10 to Houston. Austin then built some phases and eventually after a penalty had another opportunity at the Houston line with a lineout on the 5m, 4 aggressive phases, and a yellow card for the Sabercats led to another lineout on the 5m. Austin the kept the ball for 24 phases to eventually get the ball over the line only to have the referee call held up. Austin had the advantage though and from the penalty spot right underneath the posts drove another 4 phases for the Elite forwards to dot down for the 2nd try of the game. Romera converted easily. 17-15 to the Elite at 63’min.
The territory battle resumed in the middle of the park. And both Windsor and Guillimin trading penalties bring the score to 20-18 to the Elite with 7min remaining.
The final moments of the match were nail-biting, with both teams having opportunities to kill the game off. Eventually, the Sabercats worked themselves into the Elite half and forced a penalty on the 10m line directly in front of the posts. Windsor steadied himself and coolly slotted the ball with only seconds left on the clock. 21-20 to the Sabercats. On the ensuing kickoff, Austin put the ball directly in to touch. The Sabercats then controlled the scrum and cleared the ball in to touch to end the game.
Austin will be frustrated with their lack of discipline and tactical kicking mistakes in this game which they should have won. Houston never looked like scoring a try and it took a flawless kicking performance from Windsor to see Houston over the line.
pc: Norma Salinas
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