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Arkansas State scored an impressive win over Pacific Rugby Premiership runner-up Glendale Saturday, beating the Raptors 59-24 in Glendale, Colo. ASU led 17-5 at halftime, and the floodgates opened up in the second half.
Both Glendale and Arkansas State play their serious league seasons in the fall, but had a lot of firepower on the field Saturday. Glendale was led by Eagles Zach Fenoglio and Chad London. Arkansas State was captained by fullback Tom Haussrer.
“We wanted to get tested to see where we were at, and this was the best way to do it before we compete in the Varsity Cup next spring,” said ASU coach Mani Delaibatiki. “We came to win, and to give it all we have for 80 minutes, and everything else will take care of itself.
“One thing we really wanted to work on was our defensive structures, and fine tuning it, from knowing when to blitz and when to drift, and to always try to see if we can push them behind the gain line and not let them gain any momentum, because we all know a Glendale team with momentum and space is lethal, and they can attack from anywhere so we wanted to make sure that we took that option away from them, and I think our guys did exactly that for 80 minutes."
Arkansas State lost 11 seniors from last year’s squad, but the cupboard is far from bare. The depth of the backline, especially, was evidenced by 7s All American Dylan Carrion’s coming off the bench Saturday against Glendale. He’s been unseated at scrumhalf by Michael Baska, but when Carrion came on in the second half, he scored two tries and set up another.
“All us coaches, our captains, presidents and team leaders, have all chosen the mindset that there are no excuses for mediocrity. Regardless of who graduates and who fills in, we set the standards, and we fight to maintain or better it at all costs,” said Delaibatiki.
“Having an excuse to have a quiet or slow season because we lost top caliber senior players to graduation is an excuse and mindset not welcomed at the Arkansas State University rugby family."
Delaibatiki also lauded the efforts of flyhalf Zinzan Elan-Puttick, who had a high work rate and provided more than his share of tackles.
Arkansas State’s fall season comes to a crescendo when the Red Wolves meet former Mid-South rival Davenport on Oct. 10. Glendale has more collegiate action on the horizon, as the Raptors travel to St. Charles, Mo. Saturday to take on Lindenwood.