Raptors face crosstown rivals to secure spot in Finals

Photo Credit: SethMcConnell

It’s all on the line.

GLENDALE – After two-straight losses, the Glendale Raptors (9-2) are looking to close out the regular season on a high note as they face crosstown rivals, the Denver Barbarians (2-8-1) this weekend at Infinity Park.

Despite the recent dip in form, Glendale still has a chance to secure the Pacific Rugby Premiership (PRP) regular season crown, with a victory over the Barbos, in what will be the second match of the RugbyTown Showdown. Glendale and Denver will kick off at 3 p.m. following a women’s rivalry game between the Glendale women and Denver-based Black Ice.

“It’s two local women’s teams and two local men’s teams, so it’s four teams out of the Denver area looking for bragging rights,” Glendale Raptors head coach Andre Snyman said. “It’s going to be a great day for rugby.”

Denver currently sits fifth in the PRP standings and only has two wins during the 2016 campaign, but in rivalry games with Glendale, standings have little to do with how competitive the rivalry game is. Glendale won the previous match-up 35-17, but not before Denver took a 17-15 lead early.

“They’re a quality side, they’re going to come out and play some good rugby,” said Snyman. “It’s always a big motivation to play a crosstown rival and it’s all about bragging rights.”

Glendale will also have to deal with a side that has been depleted by the loss of its top players to the Professional Rugby Organization (PRO) League as well as a number of injuries to the squad which remains. Justin Pauga, who has tallied four times for Glendale this season, is currently dealing with an ankle injury. David Hardy also suffered an ankle injury in the Raptors’ road loss to Belmont Shore and will miss the remainder of the season.

But the game is a must-win for the Raptors if they hope to achieve a third-straight berth in the PRP Finals and a shot at a second-straight title after winning it last season. Denver is just the latest test in the Raptors’ hope to achieve this long-term goal.

Said Snyman, “We want to play to get a point to be in the final. They will try and beat us. We obviously have a job to do.”