The stage is set once more.
By Marco Cummings
GLENDALE – Following their 34-6 victory over the crosstown rival Denver Barbarians (Barbos) over the weekend, the Glendale Raptors have booked their third-straight trip to the Pacific Rugby Premiership (PRP) Final, and will once again face San Francisco Golden Gate (SFGG) for a shot at back-to-back league titles.
The game concluded a weekend of rugby dubbed as the RugbyTown Showdown, opened by a women’s match featuring another crosstown rivalry between the Raptors women and Black Ice. In that match, Black Ice won in a closely contested 7-5 match.
The men’s game marked Glendale’s first win since suffering back-to-back losses during a two-game stretch over four days last week.
“We’re very happy with the win,” Glendale Raptors head coach Andre Snyman said. “We used that win to get back on track, back into momentum and qualified for the Final.”
This time around, the Raptors were aided by reinforcements. Longtime captain Zach Fenoglio as well as Christian Wiessing, Casey Rock, Martin Knoetze and several others made their return to the side after a hiatus while playing in the Professional Rugby Organization (PRO) league.
“Of course it helped,” Snyman said. “It was great to have those players back, getting them back into the team chemistry and environment. It was nice to have them there.”
Saturday’s game played out to a familiar script, with the Barbos keeping the game tight and Glendale holding onto a narrow 10-3 lead. DeWon Reed led Glendale’s first half scoring efforts with a pair of first half tries, eventually going on to be named Raptors player of the match.
For the Raptors’ head coach, it was a sign that the fullback had made a return to form.
“On Saturday scoring the two tries, and the way he scored them, by running hard and throwing guys off of him, that’s typical DeWon,” Snyman said of Reed’s performance.
Denver would draw the score within 10-6 early in the second half with a drop goal from star Maximo DeAchaval, but that would mark the end of the visitors’ scoring and spark a 24-point run from Glendale in an effort that would secure the Raptors’ spot in the postseason.
“We always know when you play against the Barbos, the first half is always high on emotions,” explained Snyman. “Everybody knows each other. We just said to weather the storm and then play rugby. That’s what happened.”
After dispatching their longtime and local rivals, the Raptors will once again face a familiar test in another rivalry game, matching up with SFGG in the Final this coming weekend at Infinity Park.
“We just need to show composure, not get flustered and have patience,” Snyman said of the upcoming match, which will close out the 2016 PRP campaign.