Week 8 of the Pacific Rugby Premiership.
By Marco Cummings
GLENDALE – Following this weekend’s 35-17 win over crosstown rivals, the Denver Barbarians (Barbos), the Glendale Raptors now carry an unblemished 6-0 record after seven weeks of Pacific Rugby Premiership (PRP) play.
But regardless of another win, the team won’t be satisfied until it is hoisting its second PRP Championship in May. For Raptors’ head coach Andre Snyman, it’s been important to keep a critical eye, even when the wins are still piling up during the regular season.
“That’s what we spoke about,” Snyman said. “Normally, when you have a bad game, you lose the game. We had a bad game and we still won, so it takes a little bit of character.”
Glendale opened the match with a 12-0 halftime lead, but the Barbos stayed in the game throughout, closing the gap to 12-5 to start the second stanza.
Indicative of the rivalry between the two local clubs, the Barbos had come out to play, raising their play against the defending PRP champs.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Snyman said. “It’s always a tough game against the Barbos in the local derby. For some reason, the players get really worked up about this game.“
Denver eventually broke through to take a narrow 17-15 lead in the second half before Glendale’s fly half Armandt Peens added a drop goal, retaking a narrow 18-17 lead.
“I was really frustrated with the way we played,” Snyman explained. “We worked so hard during the week on our play, game plan and structures. The play and the execution was not what we had spoken about.”
“I just thought we played as individuals and not as a team. We’re lacking in discipline. Our penalty count was really high. We need to do a little bit of self-searching.”
But after the early second half scare, Glendale was able to muster up some positive momentum in the latter stages and multiple tries from Justin Pauga were able to close out the match with a final score of 35-17.
“In the last 12 minutes of the game, we played in the way we’re used to playing and the way we should be playing. It shows that the guys could pull it together,” Snyman said. “We scored five tries, which is always a positive thing for a coach. Luke White and Zach Fenoglio had a really solid performance with great ball carries. Justin Pauga made some yardage and scored two tries.”
Fenoglio was chosen as the Raptors Player of the Match for his performance. The Raptors captain was able to play added minutes from the week previous as he continues to regain fitness following a neck injury suffered in last year’s Rugby World Cup.
“He’s pretty much close to being 100 percent fit again which is great for himself and for the team,” Snyman said of Fenoglio. “He’s a solid player and a solid leader. The players respect him, so I was very happy with his performance. He took ownership on the field.”
As the Raptors look to finish out the second half of the season strong, it will take a complete team effort, however. Glendale will continue to improve flaws in its execution this week as it faces an upcoming tilt with Olympic Club.
Said Snyman, “We’ve just got to go back to the drawing board and revisit our structure. The players need to trust it and execute the game plan.”