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With both clubs coming off dominant wins, the Glendale Raptors hosted the Austin Huns at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo. for an exciting non-conference competition. After a tight first half where the Huns’ defense stymied the Raptors’ offense, the Glendale attack broke out for five tries in the second period to win 41-10. The Raptors refocused their attack in the second frame bringing the directness and physicality to the visiting team.
“We lacked a bit of execution in the first half in the simple pass-catch areas and our accuracy was off,” Glendale head coach David Williams stated. “We righted the ship in the second half and the boys played really well... Our running lines, our handling, and our directness got a lot better in the second half. Once we got direct, we won the physical battles and then gaps were created and we took the opportunities.”
Glendale was first on the board when Dustin Croy scored off a scrum in the first few minutes of the match. The Huns’ Timothee Guillimin responded soon after to cut the lead to 5-3 with a penalty.
Both offenses tested the opposing defenses for the remainder of the half until Ata Malifa found Max de Achaval in open space for the dive over the try line. The Huns incurred a late yellow, but the Raptors’ man advantage proved to be unfruitful as the half ended 10-3.
Glendale sharpened its focus during the intermission and it showed in the opening minutes of the half. Following an offload from captain Zach Fenoglio, Malifa scored to extend the Raptor lead to 15-3. With momentum on its side, Glendale didn’t let up and scored three more tries in less than ten minutes. Peter Dahl, Fenoglio, and Croy each scored to push the lead to 36-3 with 15 minutes left.
The teams kept battling until the final whistle as Croy scored his third try in the 79th minute and the Huns’ Joedee Reyes scored Austin’s lone try after a broken play into extra time.
Talking with Huns head coach Eugene Eloff after the game, he said that the Raptors are a well-oiled team and now his squad knows where the benchmark is. “In the first half, we had to tackle a lot. Our defense was very good."
“They had a quick try [in the first half] and I think that got us on our backs,” Eloff added. “Within five minutes, we got a try against the post that was disallowed. That would have brought us into the game quicker, but they are a really good side. They are very patient, they keep chipping away. It was a great learnng experience, but we really missed two of our star players in Hanco [Germishuys] and [Tim] Fitzgerald, our loose-head. I didn’t think the scoreboard truly reflected the game.”
Coach Williams echoed Eloff’s observations. “They brought some intensity, but they definitely missed Hanco [Germishuys]. I thought their set piece was pretty good, their lineout functioned better than the previous weeks. We just did very well defensively and didn’t let their hand on the ball. They didn’t go through too many phases and we shut down their attack.”
Both squads are on bye next weekend. On March 11th, Glendale will welcome Rugby Utah to Infinity Park while the Huns trek to New Orleans for another non-conference matchup before returning to Texas to play the Dallas Harlequins on March 18th.