Week 7 of the Pacific Rugby Premiership.
By Marco Cummings.
GLENDALE, CO – Following back-to-back bye weeks the Glendale Raptors are ready to play their home opener, playing host to Belmont Shore this Saturday.
Coming off of their 29-24 victory over the San Francisco Golden Gate (SFGG) Rhinos two weekends ago, the undefeated Raptors (4-0) will look to continue their momentum and regain the top spot in the Pacific Rugby Premiership table following the byes.
Belmont Shore, which sits in the middle of the pack with 14 league points to the Raptors’ 20, shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“They are a very good team,” Raptors head coach Andre Snyman of Belmont. “They’re a big, physical team with a good pack of forwards and good running backs. They’re a very physical game and that’s what we’re going to expect. Nothing less.”
The visitors enter the game with momentum, coming off of three-straight victories, their most recent being a defeat of the Denver Barbarians two weekends ago.
“We’ll be under pressure. Man to man, they have a few pounds on us,” Snyman added. “We’ve shown against big packs in the past that we can stand up to them. If we scrum together as a unit, we’ll be ok.”
Snyman retains confidence in his team’s defense, however, which has shown improvement and growing chemistry as the season has worn on.
“Right now, we’re pretty confident in our defense,” he explained. “We’re the best in the competition at the moment and hopefully we can build on that.”
But defense won’t be the only thing giving Glendale a boost.
Following the United States’ 29-25 loss to Uruguay in Week Five of the Americas Rugby Championship last weekend, the Raptors’ Eagles have returned from international duty with the possibility of featuring this week. Newcomer Niku Kruger and center Chad London could ease their way into the lineup, but Hanco Germishuys (personal) will be unavailable for selection.
Team captain Zach Fenoglio is day to day with a neck injury originally sustained at last year’s Rugby World Cup, but continues to be evaluated closely by the Raptors’ coaching staff.
Tactics and personnel aside, Glendale is hoping the return to Infinity Park will be a case of home sweet home.
“That’s what we’ve been looking forward to,” Snyman said. “It’s always good playing at home. This weekend will be nice, hopefully the weather will be with us. The joy of playing in front of your home crowd makes a difference.”
The match kicks off at 3pm MT at Infinity Park following the 1pm match between the Denver Barbarians and Santa Monica.