#SEAvsGRR – Glendale 19 – Seattle 15
By John Arthur
The Glendale Raptors defeated the Seattle Seawolves on Saturday in the Colorado team’s first professional away match. Top-ranked in the league’s opening weeks, the Seattle side promised high competition for Glendale’s seasoned squad. As the Raptors pressed hard in the early minutes of the match, the Seattle defense bent but didn’t break: the Raptors pressed the pace early, looking to stretch the Seawolves.
The referee called dangerous contact against Raptors fullback Maximo de Achaval as he contested possession against a Seattle player, but a penalty against the Seawolves at 8 minutes gave Glendale a chance to put points on the board. Raptors’ flyhalf Will Magie’s converted kick put the Colorado side up 3-0 9 minutes in.
Defense dominated the first half of the match, and indeed the entire contest. An additional penalty against the Seattle side allowed the Glendale team a knock on the door, but solid Seawolves defense kept the team from scoring. With de Achaval out of the sin bin, and the Colorado team returned to full strength, the Raptors began to demonstrate their experience. Against a Seattle side that dominated San Diego in week one, the Raptors repeatedly showed that they weren’t to be underestimated in the scrum.
Doing well to maintain possession in the drizzly rain, the Raptors got another shot at points following a Seawolves penalty. Will Magie was able to punch another kick through, giving the Glenadale side a rather tenuous 9-0 lead. The wet weather possibly to blame, a series of handling errors on the part of the Raptors kept the match in contention midway through the first half.
Dominating the line out, Glendale began to assert themselves as the opening half drew to a close, the experienced play of the Colorado squad seeming to tire the Seawolves. The Raptors brought pressure late in the first but were unable to convert, a testament to the Seawolves’ defense, and a nod to the difficulties the Glendale side faced in their execution on the outside of the field.
Despite the struggles, veteran Raptor Hooker, playing Flanker most of the match, Zach Fenoglio found the try zone in the 36th minute, capitalizing on a magical piece of ball movement to touch down for five points in a series of moves that are certain to find the highlight reels. Unconverted, the points still put the Raptors firmly ahead, 11-0. A late Seattle penalty conversion put the home team on the board, and the two squads entered the break 11-3, Glendale’s advantage.
The second half of the match opened to hard, steady rain, with temps in the 50s. Grip was a factor for both sides, and possession became even more hard-fought. The turf of Starfire Stadium proved a blessing, the synthetic material not succumbing to mud or loss of traction in the worsening conditions. The Seawolves had multiple opportunities in the opening minutes following the break, but the Raptors kept things in check. The Glendale side rallied hard, Harley Davidson finding the try zone at 48 minutes. Magie was unable to convert, but the Raptors went up 16-3.
The boots of Raptors Will Magie and Max de Achaval seemed to dominate field position in the second half. Dictating long-field action and placing pressure on the Seattle side, Glendale’s ball movement further troubled the home team in inclement conditions. The Seawolves squad seemed poised to strike several times throughout the half, but a stalwart Glendale defense kept them at bay.
The Seawolves found the try zone at 58 minutes, after pressuring for some time. A good conversion put the match well within striking distance, with Glendale having a slim 16-10 advantage. The Raptors scrum looked especially strong throughout the match, an area of play where Seattle had been wholly dominant in their home opener. A penalty against the Seawolves afforded Glendale another shot at points, the kick converted by Will Magie to boost the Colorado team ahead 19-10.
As a cold and steady rain fell, a defensive battle ensued, both teams now vying for position in the league standings. The Seawolves secured a try in the 81st minute, giving up a loss to the Raptors but earning bonus points in league standings as a result of the close defeat.
Raptors’ Man of the Match Zach Fenoglio was obviously pleased with the victory: “Seattle is an amazing team and we just wanted to keep putting them through the phases. We’re always happy to win.” Zach, who is a long time Glendale player and a Denver, Colorado native, is dedicated to making the sport accessible to future generations. He enjoys spending time with his wife Alyssa and his family, and hopes as a professional athlete to grow the game of rugby as a whole.
The Raptors next match is Saturday May 5. The team will be traveling to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Warriors at 1:30pm Mountain Time. The game can be streamed on AT&T Sports Net. Throughout the inaugural MLR season, CBSSN will broadcast the game of the week, with AT&T Sports or Cox Communications broadcasting non-game of the week matches along with ESPN+.