Week 9 of the Pacific Rugby Premiership.
By Marco Cummings
The Glendale Raptors will once again look to maintain their perfect record this weekend, looking for a seventh win in a row as they host Olympic Club at Infinity Park on Saturday.
Following last week’s 35-17 win over crosstown rivals, the Denver Barbarians, pressure is beginning to mount for Glendale as they continue their quest to lift back-to-back Pacific Rugby Premiership (PRP) titles.
“It does put pressure on us,” Raptors head coach Andre Snyman said. “We’re 6-0 now so the guys in the team are looking at each other and saying ‘We’ve set the standard, we can’t drop off.’ Everybody expects us to win, so yeah, there’s pressure.”
Glendale still carries an element of confidence however, having opened the season with a 71-17 victory over Olympic in the season opener in San Francisco.
“I really expected [Olympic] to play better that weekend. Looking at them during the PRP season, they’ve played a little bit better,” Snyman said. “They’re a team that you can’t just survive and be complacent. They’re very forward orientated with a scrummaging pack of forwards. We’ll just have to be sharp on defense and not give them too much space.”
The Raptors spent the team’s previous matchup under the light of the forgiving California sun, but this weekend’s match looks to be quite different, with winter temperatures and the possibility of snow present at Infinity Park.
“I think with a wet pitch and a wet ball, both teams are exposed to those elements,” Snyman cautioned. “It’s going to be cold, the fingers and toes are going to be numb and sore as well. Where we might have an advantage is the fact that we’re used to it. We train in this weather so we are used to this weather and the altitude as well.”
Even with those advantages at their backs, the Raptors are still looking to solidify elements of their game following a win that showed flashes of disorganization against Denver last weekend.
Explained Snyman, “Our guys need to work on our discipline. We need to focus harder on our breakdown in terms of the roles of each person arriving at the contact area. You’ve got to execute better and make better decisions. We want to try not to give away so many penalties at the breakdown.”
Indeed, the pressure is mounting to remain perfect this season. But the Raptors remain steadfast in focusing on the immediate task at hand.
“For now, we want to keep the momentum and focus on what we do,” Snyman said. “If it’s a win, it’s a win. If it’s a loss, we’ll absorb it and move on. We’re trying to control the emotions and if we do that then it will all be in our favor.”
The match kicks off at 3pm MT just following the 1pm match between the Denver Barbarians and Old Mission Beach. Both matches will have free admission this weekend and can be streamed.