Saturday was a rugby day.
By Marco Cummings
GLENDALE – It was a rugby double-header on Saturday afternoon in the Infinity Park stadium as the Glendale Raptors men and women’s D1 teams hosted the visiting NorCal Pelicans in a pair of back-to-back friendlies.
The day started on the Turf Field at Infinity Park, however, with an off-season friendly between the Glendale Raptors women’s elite team and Women’s Premier League rival Twin Cities Amazons that saw the Raptors win 63-17.
The stadium matches opened with a devastating 89-5 loss by the Raptors D1 women, but the Glendale men returned the favor with an 88-5 drubbing of the Pelicans’ men’s side in the later match.
“We wanted to keep the confidence going within the team and we did well against a below par NorCal team,” Glendale Raptors men’s head coach David Williams said following the victory. “It wasn’t a strong NorCal team, so that was disappointing.”
Behind some strong performances from Maximo de Achaval and Seth Halliman, the Raptors quickly built up a 24-0 lead with four tries in the opening minutes.
“Maximo was fantastic in his running lines and had scored a hat trick of tries within 22 minutes. Seth continues to improve each week,” said Williams.
At the 32-minute mark, NorCal finally broke through the Raptors lines for a try, but it would be the visitors’ only points on the day. Glendale continued to pour on the tries, entering halftime with a commanding 38-5 halftime lead.
Out of the break, Glendale continued to display offensive firepower, behind the driving forces of De Achaval and Halliman, who helped set up more tries to balloon the lead to 48-5. Raptors high flyer John Ryberg joined De Achaval with a hat trick of his own at the 54-minute mark which gave Glendale a 55-5 lead. Multiple tries from Dustin Croy and John Quill, along with another by Giorgi Tsverava helped close out the game at 88-5.
“We kept our attacking flow going,” said Williams. “We just need some tweaks at the contact area and defensive alignment.”
The Raptors will work on those tweaks in the coming week as the team prepares for a road trip north of the border next weekend to face the Ontario Blues in Canada on May 20 (1 p.m.).
“It will be a massive game, with all of their Canadian internationals,” Williams said of the matchup. “I’m really looking forward to the challenge as are the players.”