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In an intense back and forth match where neither club was happy with their performance, the Glendale Raptors endured a furious battle against the San Diego Legion to win, 31-27. At Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo., the lead changed hands seven times with Glendale scoring the final try via a bulldozing effort by Zach Fenoglio. The Legion attempted to come back one last time but lost it on a driving lineout only a few feet from the try line. The Raptors are grateful for the win and will rest up before playing NOLA on June 3rd.
“Good win but not a good performance,” Glendale head coach David Williams said. “We showed some good character to get the win and stay in the fight. We needed more composure at the end and not turn the ball over and allow San Diego to get the ball back with an attacking lineout inside our 22.”
“To echo Davie’s words, I think we were our own worst enemy today,” captain Shaun Davies stated. “We gave away too many penalties to give San Diego an easy out in their own half. As a team, this is something we really need to work on over the next coming weeks. In saying that the boys had a couple great goal-line stands, especially in the last play of the game. The last three weeks we’ve had really close games but have found a way to get the win.”
“When it came down to it, it was our desire to not let them score,” flyhalf Will Magie said. “We had two big goal-line stands. Mika [Kruse] made an amazing tackle which changed the momentum of the game in my opinion and then all the boys were putting their bodies on the line to get the win at the end... We were very happy to get the win, we know we didn’t play as well as we could have but to get another win is always nice.”
Davies agreed with Magie about Kruse’s momentum-stopping tackle being a game-changer. “Mika’s shot was bloody epic and really had the boys excited for the last few minutes.”
The Glendale captain added that Seth Halliman’s try in the 61st minute was a signature moment of the game. “I think Seth had a fantastic run down the wing and scored which really helped the boys to get up for the rest of the game,” Davies said. “He is a good player and only gets better every week.”
San Diego has only become better as the season has progressed, but there is still work left to do. The Legion gave arguably the best team in the MLR all it could handle for 80 minutes.
“Our goal was to win the game and we didn’t do it,” San Diego head coach Rob Hoadley said. “I don’t think our defense was up to the task. We fell off too many tackles, especially near our line. We gave them soft tries by falling off tackles. We had a chance to win it at the end with a driving lineout similar to against Houston and we just lost control at the lineout.”
One aspect that Hoadley was most proud of was the improving play of the Legion tight five. “We are changing the story about them. Obviously, we had a rough ride in the first week against Seattle and I think we are starting to change that. We are getting parity in the scrum and our lineouts are a driving feature of the game. With that platform, we can compete and we can beat the best in the tournament.”
San Diego is off next weekend before going on the road to Austin on May 25th. “We are going to concentrate on our own game [during the bye week],” Hoadley said. “We need more speed and be more clinical at the breakdown to create a consistent quick ball. If we do that, we can use the width of the pitch a little more than we did today.”
As for the Raptors, they will enjoy extended two-week break prior to a business trip to NOLA on June 3rd. “I think the bye weeks for us couldn’t have come at a better time,” Davies noted. “Some of the boys are pretty banged up and need the break, plus we get Connor Cook and Ben Landry back from suspension. We will take a long look at ourselves and what we need to work on as individuals and as a team and be better for it.”
Williams agreed to say, “We need to go back and improve our basics. We have a mid-season break now, need to get some injured players back, and really need to improve our accuracy in our pitch map.”