Raptors look to lock up Pacific Rugby Premiership
The quest to defend the Pacific Rugby Premiership (PRP) title while retaining an unblemished record continues for the Glendale Raptors (8-0) as they host the Santa Monica Dolphins (1-6) this weekend at Infinity Park.
While last week’s 18-16 stoppage time win over OMBAC pitted the Raptors over the second-best team in the league, this weekend’s opponent will provide a different test, with the Raptors facing a desperate team that sits at the bottom of the PRP table. The match will also provide an opportunity for Glendale to achieve an all important milestone in their current campaign, looking to wrap up a spot in the Final ahead of schedule.
“We’re excited about this game because we could potentially clinch ourselves in the Final” Raptors head coach Andre Snyman said of the upcoming match. “We’re not going to look at them as the underdogs. We’re just going to focus on our structure and the way we play.”
A win with the bonus points achieved from scoring four tries could have Glendale clinching by the end of the weekend, but first they must get past the Dolphins. Santa Monica has already mustered one upset this season; a 16-15 victory over Olympic Club, a team which put Glendale under pressure in the early stages in a recent 60-22 victory in Week 8.
“We can’t underestimate this team,” Snyman said. “The fact that we are 8-0, the players could get complacent and see it as good enough, but it’s definitely not. I hope they know the importance of this game and the big picture.”
While Snyman remains confident in his group, the Raptors have been hit with the inevitable challenge of the injury bug. David Hardy (lower leg) and Zach Fenoglio (shoulder) are among the casualties that may miss playing time this weekend.
In their place, Snyman expects Division II and bench players to step up in a big way.
“It just gives us another opportunity to play one or two of the DII guys with the potential of losing players to the PRO league,” he explained. “We’ve just got to try and manage these players. James Del Bozque will have to step up at hooker in place of [Fenoglio]. Josh Barry has been on the bench all season and he’s going to start this weekend. Those are the guys that will have to step up.”
Yet even if the Raptors clinch a spot in the Final, another looming goal will motivate Glendale as it finishes out the regular season.
“We would like to win every game,” Snyman said. “We would like to end the season with an undefeated record.”