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For some it’s a lost win, for some it’s a result gained. For the Glendale Raptors and Kansas City Blues Saturday, it was both for each team.
Glendale are not happy at all at their performance, as they were heavily favored in the game, so a 21-21 tie was not what they had expected. However, it could have been worse, because if Tyler Siegel had not slotted that late penalty goal, Kansas City would have won outright.
Meanwhile, the Blues have to be pretty thrilled at holding the reigning national champs to a 21-21 tie, especially when Glendale had been convicning winners in their first matchup last fall. At the same time, they could have won, and might be wondering what more they could have done.
“Ity was a shock,” said Glendale Head Coach Mark Bullock. “We did not expect that. The Blues played well and with enthusiasm. We played about as poorly as we could have played. I think from 1 to 22 were we poor – across the board.”
Asked if the Glendale team might be getting complacent after a series of excellent results, Bullock shrugged.
“I didn’t think so, but we certainly didn’t go into this game with the level of intensity we needed, and Kansas City did. We seemed to lose the ball in contact a lot. We scored a try early and I thought we would take control then, but we never did.”
The teams were deadlocked early at 3-3 thanks to penalties from Nese Malifa for Glendale and Kevin Schwartze. Then Iniki Fa'amausili raced in for a try to make it 8-3 – that was the play that put Bullock in a short-lived good mood.
That was at 17 minutes, and for the next 14 minutes Glendale kept trying to add to the score, and Kansas City put them on their butts.
“Last time we played them we didn’t really get far working on the offensive approach we had, so we decided to spend a lot of time working on our defensive structure,” said KC Head Coach Scott Adamson. “We wanted to go into this game playing incredible defense, and that’s what they did.”
Nine minutes before halftime Malifa hit his second penalty to make it 11-3 Glendale, but pressure from KC forced a kickable penalty of their own, and Schwartze was accurate again to make the score 11-6.
The Blues kept up the pressure in the second half, and Schwartze was good for another kick to make it 11-9. At that point, Glendale had to know they weren’t going to shake the Blues.
Although they tried. Max Statler raced in for Glendale’s second, and with Malifa’s conversion the Raptors led 18-9.
But Kansas City got their first try of the game 11 minutes later – Michael Mercer doing the honors. Schwartze was good on the kick, again, making it 18-16 with 16 minutes to go. It took two minutes for Kansas City to take the lead. This time Casey Cummings scored the try, making it 18-21 in Kansas City’s favor. Only Siegel’s kick with three minutes to go saved the game for Glendale.
“The Blues organization expects to win every time we step on the pitch,” Adamson said in response to the question as to whether he was surprised at the result. But with Glendale's status as reigning national champions, their lengthy winning streak, and recent success against super league teams, and considering where we are in our development as a team, we are content with the outcome … But the guys did a great job sticking to the defensive pattern. We’re a young team and this was a big result for us.”
The other upshot of the tie is that Kansas City is a game away from clinching home field advantage for the CR2 playoffs.
“That was always one of our goals,” said Adamson.
For Glendale, it’s time to look in the mirror.
“I told the players that I did a poor job of preparing them for this game, and that will change,” said Bullock. “These things happen in sports, and we’ll take the opportunity to re-evaluate what we’re doing and hopefully make some corrections.”
Ah yes, ties, so good and yet so bad.