Glendale 35 – NYAC 22
By John Arthur.
The Glendale Raptors bested New York Athletic Club in a friendly exhibition Saturday, completing the Major League Rugby preseason with a flawless record. Under partly cloudy skies, the Raptors looked fit, if not entirely composed, against the New York squad. Head Coach David Williams was grateful for the additional preparation facing the NYAC team afforded the Raptors, as they prepare to enter their inaugural professional season in MLR.
Glendale hit the pitch hard out of the gate, with wing John Ryberg touching down for points just two minutes in. The conversion was completed by seasoned Raptors flyhalf Will Magie. Cool temps and a stiff breeze didn’t slow the Raptors, with the team putting more points on the board just four minutes later. Fullback Nick Johnson found the try zone and touched down for five. Magie converted again to put Glendale up 14-0.
NYAC was able to put three points on the scoreboard at 20 minutes in, following a penalty on Glendale, but the first half belonged to the Colorado team. The closing minutes of the opening half were action-packed. Raptors prop Luke White was sanctioned with a red card and sent off, putting Glendale down a man, but the team rallied. Making a defensive stand against NYAC, the Raptors closed the first half with a sensational try by breakout center Mika Kruse. Magie went into the break perfect on conversion attempts, giving Glendale a 21-3 lead.
New York came off the first half fresh, putting the ball in the try zone and converting early. The first half red card only then seemed to begin to give the Raptors pause, the team struggling to maintain defensive cohesion. NYAC put more points on the board in the 66th minute, drawing to within striking distance of the Glendale side. The Raptors answered just nine minutes later with an impressive try and conversion by Will Magie. NYAC made a response of their own late in the match, putting 7 more on the scoreboard, but it would prove too little, too late. Veteran Glendale back Max Statler, making his first appearance on the roster in 2018, closed out the match with an unconverted try. The Raptors took the win, 35-22, and their preseason remains unblemished. Head Coach David Williams named Brian Wanless the man of the match, noting the defensive strength and aggressive tackling the big flanker brought to the field.
Williams was pleased to take victory, but was realistic about his team’s performance when asked post-match: “We showed some great resilience, but we defended way too long, for way too many periods during both halves.” Williams praised the Raptors’ form offensively, and noted that the team did finish with a win: “Once we got possession and went through our phases we looked good,” he said. “We just didn’t do enough of that during the game. At the end of the day though, we still won, we still got the victory.” The Raptors now have two weeks to prepare for their first professional match.
The Raptors first home game is April 21 at Infinity Park, where the team will host Austin Elite Rugby at 3pm Mountain Time. Season and single game tickets are on sale now. For more information, follow the team on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.