A greater test than the score indicates.
GLENDALE – Anticipated to be one of their most difficult match-ups of the season, the Glendale Raptors hosted the Austin Huns at Infinity Park for the fourth match of this spring’s season and second of the Major Rugby Championship (MRC). Despite being held to their lowest point total of the season, the Raptors broke through with a solid second-half effort to take home a 41-10 victory and remain undefeated in 2017.
Austin, fresh from a recent victory over crosstown rivals and National powerhouse, the Austin Blacks, accepted the first half kickoff, but gifted it back to Glendale in the opening minutes with a knock on. On the ensuing scrum, the Raptors broke through with a try from Dustin Croy to take a 5-0 lead.
The Huns moved the length of the field to knock on the Raptors’ door and were awarded a penalty, but elected a scrum. After an offside call against Glendale, the Huns elected to kick the second penalty to cut the lead to 5-3 at the 6-minute mark.
Then ensuing 20 minutes of action saw long stretches of possession by Glendale, but minor mistakes in ball movement, kept the hosts from adding onto their lead. Finally, Croy broke through the Huns’ pack with a strong run up the middle to set up the Raptors’ second try of the day by Maximo de Achaval to put the score at 10-3 in favor of the Raptors.
Yet despite a man advantage to close out the opening half, Glendale was unable to continue to pile up the points.
“We were making basic executionary errors: not catching passes, not working hard enough,” Raptors head coach David Williams explained.
The Raptors’ gaffer also quelled the notion that the cold field conditions contributed to stiff hands and poor ball handling, saying, “We live here. We train here. There’s no excuses.”
Ata Malifa added the Raptors’ third try of the day to open scoring in the second half and extend the Raptors’ lead to 15-3.
The Raptors found the try zone again in the 57th minute when Peter Dahl scored his first try of the day. Dahl’s try was also Glendale’s first converted try the day, putting the lead at 21-5.
Momentum began to snowball for the Raptors, who found themselves with possession again minutes later, culminating in co-captain Zach Fenoglio’s outstretched reach for the try zone, extending the Raptors’ lead to 29-3 at the 60-minute mark.
The offensive breakout continued for Glendale, which added another try at 63 minutes from Croy. It again went converted to extend the lead to 36-3.
Just over a quarter of an hour later, Fenoglio got his second and extended Glendale’s lead at 41-3 in the 79th minute.
Despite Glendale taking a stranglehold on the match in the second half, Austin wouldn’t leave Infinity Park without finding the try zone. Joedee Reyes tapped down in extra time to score the Huns’ first try of the game, putting the game’s final score at 41-10, another Raptors win.
“It was a hard-fought match,” said Austin Huns player of the match and scrum half Michael Reid. “We were in it, but [Glendale] were just too clinical in the second half and we couldn’t keep up with them.”
Zach Fenoglio was selected as Glendale’s player of the match, and was highly complimentary of the day’s opponent.
“They’re a great program,” Fenoglio said of the Huns. “It was a greater test than the score indicated and we’re looking forward to meeting them again in Austin.”
After a bye week, Glendale returns to action at Infinity Park on March 11 against regional rivals Rugby Utah. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.
“Utah will be a great test also,” added Fenoglio. “We just need to work on some things individually before then.”
Photos by Seth McConnell