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Glendale overcame some injury woes to defeat Utah 36-29 Saturday at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah. The game was tied three different times, at 0-0, 10-10 and 17-17, and after Utah scored its first try, no team ever led by more than a score.
The win preserves Glendale’s perfect record, moving the Raptors to 3-0. The loss drops the Warriors to 0-2. They’re the bookends of the league, showcasing impressive parity with seven points separating first and last place.
The flyhalves both had shots at goal early. Utah’s Kurt Morath missed his, and Glendale’s Will Magie nailed his, putting the Raptors up early. The arm wrestle went further in Glendale’s direction when Magie made a half break and offloaded to a charging Luke White.
The big lock hit Bryce Campbell, who was cut down about five meters short. On the next phase, Magie floated a looping cutout pass to No. 8 Samuel Figg, who carried over for the first try of the game. Magie converted – 10-0.
26 minutes in, Morath finally got the Warriors on the board with a successful penalty. The score cut the deficit to seven. MacLellan erased it with a try a few minutes later. Paul Lasike bashed into the Glendale defensive line, offloading to Vainikolo. A couple of phases later, MacLellan took a wide pass off scrumhalf Joe Nicholls and broke the line. Morath converted, tying the game at 10-10 with just under 10 minutes left in the half.
The Raptors were knocking on the door the last several minutes of the half, but some misfortune saw them lose Figg to an apparent concussion in a dangerously late challenge from Utah fullback Don Pati. Glendale kept the ball through the penalty but eventually knocked on, ending the half in a stalemate.
Vainikolo broke the tied with a try in the 44th minute. David Tameilau made the initial penetration, rumbling through the Glendale defense. The Tongan try leader then burst up the blindside to round the corner of the try zone and dot down. Morath’s conversion was successful, putting the Warriors up 17-10.
Utah looked destined to extend the lead after Ara Elkington squirted through a couple of arm tackles and raced deep into the attacking end, but an errant offload turned the ball over. Glendale quickly attacked the other direction, with Campbell carrying the ball 30 meters before deferring Maximo de Achaval, who connected with Harley Davidson. The former Life All-American cut back against the grain and sprinted under the posts. Magie slotted the extras to knot the game at 17-17.
Glendale jumped back in front in the 59th minute when Peter Dahl found space near the posts from short range. Magie missed the two points, leaving the Raptors up five at 22-17.
Tonata Lauti then scored in the corner in the 63rd minute, capitalizing on a big run from Fetu’u Vainikolo. Kurt Morath couldn’t bank the touchline conversion, leaving the Warriors down two at 24-22.
Lauti was the source of brilliance on the next try. Joseph Nicholls impressively won a contested high ball, giving Utah possession. A couple of passes later, Lauti pierced a gap between Bryce Campbell and Peter Dahl before making Will Magie fall down and curving under the posts. Morath nailed the easy conversion, putting Utah up 29-24 with 10 minutes to play.
Campbell got the score back 90 seconds later. The Raptors went on the offensive via a dizzying run from Mika Kruse. A swing to the other touch line and back, and Campbell exploited a gap between and Elkington for the go-ahead try.
Kruse dotted down three minutes later off the back of a massive effort from Harley Davidson. The wing blew through a tackle attempt from Nicholls and careened around the inside of the attacking 22 before Lasike cut him down five meters short. A quick pass was sent to Kruse, who slid in on the wing. Magie missed the conversion, making it 36-29 with four minutes to go.
The Warriors got possession and held it until the death, with a gashing run from Vainikolo and an offload to Ben Nicholls. Glendale was pinged for a penalty in the process, and instead of kicking for a point-blank lineout, Nicholls opted to quick tap. The Warriors hammered routinely at Glendale’s try line until a penalty for entering the ruck from the side ended the threat and the game.
Tries: Figg, Davidson, Dahl, Campbell, Kruse
Cons: Magie (4)
Tries: MacLellan, Vainikolo, Lauti (2)
Cons: Morath (3)