Raptors locked down defensively.
GLENDALE – Despite a two-week off period, the Glendale Raptors looked very much in form when they returned to action this past weekend, adding another victory to their Major Rugby Championship campaign with a dominant 53-3 road win over regional rivals Rugby Utah.
“With a week off last weekend, we needed to stay focused and keep to our processes and patterns of play,” Raptors head coach David Williams said of the match, one which marked Glendale’s eighth-straight to start 2017, keeping the team undefeated on the season.
Strong offensive work and multiple tries from John Quill helped the Raptors build a 19-3 first half lead, with Rugby Utah’s points coming on a penalty just a quarter of an hour before the break.
Quill tapped down the tries, but center/winger Seth Halliman also stood out on the day as a player to watch for Glendale.
“He continues to improve as a player and get adjusted to our increased tempo and style of play,” explained Williams. “Our forwards always produce our platform and continue to do so.”
Not to be outdone, substitute Nick Johnson came in after the half for the Raptors, and got in on the scoring, producing two tries which ballooned Glendale’s lead to 31-3 after the break. Jon Ryberg joined his teammate with a pair of tries, further extending the lead to 44-3 near the 70-minute mark. Shortly after, Johnson completed the hat trick with his third try of the match, which was converted by Will Magie, capping the game’s final score at 53-3.
It marked the fifth time Glendale has scored 50-plus points this season, including a 94-17 home win over Rugby Utah back in early March. But perhaps more impressive was the Raptors’ ability to lock down defensively, keeping their opponents out of the try zone.
“We knew they had some big physical players that like to carry and be physical, get over the gain line and play fast,” said Williams. “We worked on our defensive line speed during the week to stop their ball runners.”
With another win in hand, Glendale will continue its road trip, heading to Boston next weekend to face a new challenge as they take on Mystic River at Noon on Saturday.
“Going to play an east coast team, whom we have never played before will present its challenges,” Williams said of the upcoming match. “We will focus on continual improvement as individuals and as a team.”
Photos by Justin Purdy