First loss in 2017.
By Marco Cummings
GLENDALE – The Glendale Raptors men traveled north of the border over the weekend to face an elite test in Canada when they faced the Ontario Blues in a friendly match. Yet much to the disappointment of the side, the Raptors left with their first loss of the 2017 campaign, falling 43-25 to the Blues.
“We wanted a strong performance against the best Canadian provincial team,” Raptors head coach David Williams said of the match. “We got beaten by the better team. We didn’t control the territory and possession in the second half with the wind at our backs which was disappointing. Silly errors in the first half allowed Ontario to score points and get ahead on the scoreboard.”
It was a tightly contested match, which saw the Raptors score the opening try as well as hold onto a 10-7 lead in the opening 20 minutes of play.
“When we looked after the ball and went through the phases we did well, and stuck to our pattern,” Williams said, “Our contact work was improved which was a focus going into this game.”
Nonetheless, Ontario stormed back to build a 24-15 advantage by halftime. In the second half, Glendale closed the gap to 24-18 with a converted penalty in the opening ten minutes of the half.
But the Blues had answers, scoring two more tries and a conversion to build a 43-18 lead with under ten minutes remaining. Windy conditions on the pitch and travel added to the challenge of playing arguably the best club rugby team in Canada, but Williams stressed that his team isn’t one for excuses.
“[Ontario] are a good physical team that played the conditions better than we did,” Williams explained. “We didn’t defend their maul very effectively and dropped off physically at the start of the 2nd half. We travel enough and never use that as an excuse.”
Despite the adversity, Glendale finished strong, with Chad London tapping down a try in the game’s closing minutes and the Raptors’ defense denying Ontario with a try line stand to close out the game. Casey Rock and Ben Landry were also highlighted as a pair of Raptors who put forth strong performances, both in ball carrying and on the defensive end.
With summer and the 7s season now approaching, Williams sees the loss as an opportunity.
“We need to learn from our mistakes and not forget the mistakes from this game, improve as individuals, a unit and overall as a team,” he said. “We will bounce back as this is a great group of men.”