Large crowd enjoyed D2 clash.
GLENDALE – It’s always a classic when the Glendale Raptors host their crosstown rivals, the Denver Barbarians. This time was no different as the Raptors Men’s D2 side took to the pitch to face the Barbos on Saturday afternoon. In the end, the Raptors could not hold on, falling 26-16 in a back and forth effort between the two sides.
The opening half was a defensive struggle between Glendale and Denver, going scoreless for the first half hour of action until Michael Al-Jiboori broke through for a try to give Denver a 5-0 lead. But Derek Smith chipped in with a couple of penalty kicks for Glendale to give the home side a 6-5 lead by halftime.
“Both teams came out a little slow,” explained Glendale Raptors Winger and Man of the Match Nick Johnson. “There was a lot of mistakes and a lot of unforced errors on both sides.”
Johnson would extend Glendale’s lead to 11-5 early in the second half with the Raptors’ first try of the game. Johnson would follow up with a helper on Glendale’s next try, offloading to Sam Enari to extend the Raptors’ lead to 16-5 at the 48-minute mark.
Denver would claw its way back to tie the game at 16-16 by the 68th minute. Led by flyhalf Charles Ajarrista, who racked up 16 points individually on the day, Denver tacked on two more tries in the final 12 minutes of action to take the lead, and the win, 26-16.
“I don’t think either team is happy with the performance, but we meet again in a couple of weeks, so hopefully we’ll put on a better show for the second one,” said Johnson. “Hopefully we’ll have a little bit better result on our end.”
A trip to Texas now awaits the Raptors men, who travel to Austin, Texas on April 15. The Men’s Elite Team will face hosts Austin Huns in Major Rugby Championship competition, while the D2 side will face Dallas Harlequins in a friendly.
Photos by Steve Oathout