Utah Warriors held scoreless after halftime in second draw of season, 27-27 at Seattle

Utah Warriors held scoreless after halftime in second draw of season, 27-27 at Seattle

(David Boyd, Utah Warriors)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Not all ties feel like kissing your brother, to use the words of former U.S. hockey legend Julie "The Cat" Gaffney.

Some just feel disappointing.

Utah's professional rugby team snatched a stalemate from the jaws of victory Sunday evening.

Fetu'u Vainikolo scored two first-half tries, and the Warriors went up 27-17 at halftime before holding on for a 27-27 draw at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Washington.

It's the second draw of the season for the Warriors (2-11-2, 20 points), who have played in two of the three draws in Major League Rugby’s two-year history.

"We played to our potential today. Our performance and effort matched each other," Warriors coach Alf Daniels said. "I was very proud of our boys today. Just a couple of little things to fix and we get ourselves a good win.

"I'm looking forward to hosting Houston at home next week."

The draw prevented Seattle (10-4-1) from clinching a spot in the MLR playoff series. The Seawolves are tied with Rugby United New York, NOLA Gold and the Toronto Arrows on 53 points with one game remaining, or four teams for the final three spots behind the San Diego Legion.

“The guys coming on did a great job,” Seattle’s Brad Tucker said after the match. “Unfortunately we left a little on the field … but a draw is better than a loss.”

After the Seawolves opened the scoring in the third minute, Vainikolo tied it up with his first try six minutes later. Former BYU rugby standout Josh Whippy then gave the Warriors a lead they would never relinquish, assisting on Tim O’Malley’s try in the 13th minute and returning an intercepted pass 70 meters for a try five minutes later as Utah built up a 27-17 halftime lead.

But Vainikolo’s second try, a dash from an offloaded pass from Johnny Ika, would be the Warriors’ final score of the game. The Seawolves shut out Utah in the second half, and scored through Shalom Suniula in the 67th minute.

Then Brock Staller converted a penalty with four minutes remaining to tie the match, and both sides settled for the stalemate.

Next up

Eliminated from playoff contention, the Warriors will wrap up the season next Saturday, June 1 against the Houston Sabercats (4-10-0, 20 points). The match will kick off at 6 p.m. MT at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman.

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