Week 1 of Pacific Rugby Premiership
By Marco Summings
GLENDALE, Colo. – The Glendale Raptors have taken the first step to defending their Pacific Rugby Premiership (PRP) title, taking home an emphatic 71-17 road victory from Olympic Club over the weekend.
It was a score line that took Raptors head coach Andre Snyman off guard.
“They’ve been at the bottom of the log but that doesn’t indicate the quality of rugby that they play, so we have to be focused and not take them lightly,” he said. “They’re a team that you can’t underestimate. They’ve got some quality players. Over the last two seasons they’ve caused some upsets.”
“It was a big win. I didn’t really expect it to be such a high scoring game,” he said. “I was quit nervous going into the game because, like I said, they’re the type of club that can cause an upset. I was actually really surprised.”
In the opening minutes of the match, the home side indeed looked poised to cause an upset, breaking through for the first points with an unconverted try and a 5-0 lead in the opening minutes.
Just after the quarter hour mark however, Glendale had settled in with a 14-5 lead after two unanswered tries of their own.
“They gave us a bit of a run for our money in the first ten minutes and after that we got the better of them,” explained Snyman.
The lead ballooned to 38-5 by halftime and was 64-5 with 15 minutes remaining.
The effort was aided by Zac Pauga, who was selected as the Raptors Player of the Match wearing the No. 8 shirt.
“Pauga has always been a devastating ball carrier. Whenever he has the ball in his hand, he’s always making some good yardage,” said Snyman. “I think he wore the No. 8 jersey pretty well and did what was expected of him.”
However, some scoreboard watching by Glendale led to the team conceding multiple scores in the final minutes, resulting in the eventual 71-17 score line. It was the only thing that Snyman found troubling in a dominant display of rugby from the defending champs.
“It’s a bit of a concern for me because we’ve got to be focused for 80 minutes,” he said. “I think the players looked at the scoreboard and started switching off.”
Rekindling that focus while dealing with winter weather conditions back home will be the Raptors’ focus this week as the team prepares for another road game at Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC) next Saturday.
Said Snyman, “It’s now the third year where we’re getting used to the fact that we can’t prepare the way we’d like to because of weather conditions. I think these kinds of conditions give us an opportunity to look at some video and do some whiteboard sessions. We’ll have to see how bad it is and adapt.”