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Multiple lead changes and capitalization on mistakes highlighted the San Diego Legion’s second MLR home victory against the Houston Sabercats, 35-32. Late in the match, Houston extended its lead to four points with five minutes left off an Osea Kolinisau drop goal, but the Legion took advantage when the Sabercats kicked the ball back following the restart. After a rash of penalties, San Diego set up shop with a lineout and maul to get inside the five. On the game’s final play, Anthony Purpura won the game off a pick and go to send the home crowd into a frenzy.

Legion captain Nate Augspurger described the final minutes of the test. “At the point when we were down and they got the drop goal on us, the deciding factor was just that we wanted it more. We played smart in the last few minutes of the game. After the drop goal, I brought the guys in and I told them we have to make them pay for kicking for three points instead of trying to score a try and stay in our own end.”

“Off the kickoff, we knew we wanted to keep the ball down in their end so if they made any mistakes, we were ready to capitalize on it,” Augspurger continued. “That’s exactly what happened when they kicked the ball back to us and we got into our own territory. They were penalized and gave us the opportunity for a driving maul that ultimately won the game. There was a lot of composure by the whole team in those final moments and allowed us the lead.”

On the other side of the field, Houston head coach Justin Fitzpatrick was very proud of his squad’s overall effort. “It was a high tempo, entertaining affair. In the end, the difference between the two sides came down to us being punished for a couple of technical and tactical errors which the Legion capitalized on very well. Next week, we will brush ourselves down in our week off, recharge, and work on eliminating those unforced errors that proved to be costly today.”

San Diego outside center Anthony Salaber earned the Man of the Match for his three-try hat trick, powerful running, and contributing all around the park. Augspurger also gave a game ball to the forward pack. "I would give a tip of the hat to our entire forward pack. This Houston team played us in the preseason and bullied us around. Our forwards definitely stepped up and made sure that was not going to happen again.”

To get the victory at home was huge for the Legion. “We have the best fan base in the competition right now and I think they are going to like watching us even though we make things a bit more dramatic than they need to be. It means everything to us to be winning games at home and a home field advantage is a very serious thing and only makes your team better. After tonight, we have shown that we are now a tough team that you have to come into our city and play us in front of a great home crowd.”

The next step in the maturation of San Diego is at Glendale next Sunday. “[The Raptors are] definitely one of the best teams in the competition. I played with a lot of those guys and they have a lot of international players on the team. Very well structured and disciplined. We will have nine days to rest up and make sure we are mentally and physically prepared to have a top-level competition match in Glendale.”

Lastly, when asked what he learned about his team tonight, Augspurger said that the Legion wanted to prove to themselves that they can win the tough matches. “Tonight wasn’t necessarily about getting all the small things right, but we learned a part of our identity which is that we never give up and that we are going to fight to the death. That is something you can't really teach and it’s in the heart of your players and heart of the team. We showed that we have heart and we take pride in that every time we step on the field.”

Match Details

05.04.18 San Diego, California
Final Score
Houston Sabercats
32
1 wins | 2 losses
@
San Diego Legion
35
2 wins | 1 losses