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Arkansas State tussles with Glendale

Arkansas State treated visiting Glendale to a 14-12 loss in Jonesboro, Ark. Saturday. The match served as a preseason primer for the Red Wolves and a good non-league test for the Raptors, and it makes ASU 2-0 over the Pacific Rugby Premiership side this competitive cycle. The Red Wolves downed Glendale, 51-24, in the fall.

“That game could have gone either way. We both had a really good go at each other. There were times during our game where we didn’t execute the right options, but we kept getting up and grinding till the last whistle,” said Arkansas State coach NeMani Delaibatiki.

“Our forwards were phenomenal eliminating threats at the breakdown, and putting pressure on Glendale go forward balls, and our backs did the same as well cutting down space and time of a very mobile Glendale backline.”

Arkansas State struggled early on Saturday with Glendale dominating the scrums, with USA Eagle Nick Wallace and emerging Eagle candidate Ben Tarr making a statement right off the bat. Arkansas State slowly came back and towards the second half managed to hold its own in the scrums.

It took some creativity for the Red Wolves to break the stalemate in the first half. They swung it wide to freshman winger Glenn Eriksen, who chip-kicked ahead. Flyhalf Mike Baska gathered and passed back into Eriksen for the try right under the post. Tomo Hausrrer converted, and ASU was up 7-0.

Glendale missed an early shot at goal before the Eriksen try, but center Dewon Reed scored just before halftime to get the Raptors on the board. With Garrett Brewer’s conversion, the game was tied at 7-7.

The game was Reed’s first in 2015. The MVP of Glendale’s DI National Championship victory, Reed is a big-time player when he’s fit and available.

“He hasn’t played for a couple of months so now he’s back into the fold.” Glendale coach Andre Snyman said of Reed’s performance.

About 10 minutes into the second half, ASU’s freshman Texan wing, Preston Weigel, got injured. His substitute, Dusty Bates, younger brother of the "flying Hawaiian" Dale Bates, scored with a 30-meter run through traffic to score, putting ASU up, 14-7.  

Brewer ran in from 20 meters to score on the corner, but unfortunately could not convert his own try, leaving the Raptors down two, 14-12. Neither team could muster another score.

Glendale played a mix of PRP starters and fringe players, trying to get experience for some and more work for others. A couple of big-name players making their debuts for Glendale were Tarr and Wallace.

“I’m looking for the older players to show their leadership and experience,” said Snymnan. “If they have experience from other clubs and countries I would like them to share it with their teammates and bring their experience to the team and to the pitch. Help the young kids and debutants and show composure making good rugby decisions.”

Glendale will return its attention to the Premiership on the weekend, with a rematch of the inaugural PRP final against SFGG in San Francisco Saturday. Arkansas State will send its 7s side to Las Vegas to try and win a spot in the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship.