Raptors remain undefeated in 2017.
GLENDALE – The Glendale Raptors remain undefeated in Major Rugby Championship competition, dispatching the Austin Huns on the road this past weekend by a score of 45-15. It marked the second meeting between the two sides in 2017 with Glendale also the victor of a 41-10 home match against Austin contested back in late February.
But with the game played under the heat of the Texas sun and temperatures in the mid 70s, this game was sure to be different.
“The heat and humidity was going to be a factor, but nothing the team haven’t played in before,” explained Raptors head coach David Williams. “Austin have a good set piece, couple of good centers and a No. 10 that can play, who had to play at 9 from the start due to an injury. We were conscious of their big ball carriers and had strategies to counteract their moves with our line speed and structure. Through analysis we had a good idea of their patterns on both sides of the ball, which had improved since our first meeting.”
Like the previous match, it was a tightly contested affair in the opening half. Austin took an early 3-0 lead from a penalty kick which was answered by Glendale’s Will Magie, tying the game at 3-3 in the early minutes. A try from Peter Dahl gave the Raptors their first lead of the game at 10-3, but it was answered by Austin just before the half as the teams entered halftime with Glendale holding a 10-8 advantage.
“The Huns had gotten better, which we had witnessed by watching their games and seeing what their players can accomplish given time and space,” explained Williams.
But just like the previous match, a strong offensive effort in the second half helped propel Glendale. With just over 20 minutes gone in the second half, the Raptors had broken through with two more tries, extending their lead to 24-8. The scoring continued as Glendale ballooned the lead to 38-8 by the 73-minute mark.
“We were working on some new items we had brought in on both sides of the ball, play with tempo and accuracy,” said Williams. “When we sorted out our platform, we created many more opportunities.”
At 76 minutes, recent addition Ben Landry closed out scoring for the Raptors with another try, putting the lead at 45-8. It was a sign to the positive for the second-row man, who is returning to rugby fitness after a year off spent pursuing a shot at the NFL.
“Ben was good in the lineout and his carries, but won’t be happy with his overall work rate; that will come as we adjust his conditioning and repeated efforts during the games. It was his first 80 minutes in over a year,” Williams said of Landry.
Austin would have a say before the final whistle, scoring a try in the waning moments to put the game’s final score at 45-15. Despite an unblemished 7-0 record for the Glendale Raptors in 2017, Coach Williams assures that there’s still much improvement to be made.
“We have to stop giving up territory and possession with the amount of penalties,” he said. “We have to keep working on our combinations and our accuracy.”
The Raptors will have nearly two weeks to work on those aspects of the game, as the team preps for its next match and another road trip, with Glendale facing Rugby Utah on April 29.