RUNY ALMOST HAND GLENDALE THEIR FIRST EVER MLR LOSS AT HOME BUT FALL JUST SHORT
Written by Colton Strickler of the MLR
Friday night’s match between the Glendale Raptors and the visiting Rugby United New York was an important one as each club fights for their playoff lives.
Thanks to a late try by inside center Chad London, it was the Raptors (6-4-2) that come out on top, defeating RUNY (8-3) 20-16 and evening the season series at one match apiece.
“Ultimately, Glendale is a good side,” RUNY scrum-half Mike Petri said following the loss. “They were playing at home, had the crowd behind them. They took advantage of our mistakes throughout the game and at this level when you make a mistake, it hurts. They made us pay for it.”
After getting waxed 46-15 by the San Diego Legion a week earlier, the Raptors bounced back in a big way with a victory over RUNY.
Glendale fullback Dylan Taikato-Simpson said after the match. “We had a long look in the mirror after getting spanked last week. The boys turned up this weekend and we were able to get across the line.”
The Raptors were staring down the barrel of two straight losses late in Friday night’s match before London burst through RUNY’s defense and in for a try in the 78th minute.
The match was largely a defensive one. Taikato-Simpson got the scoring started with a penalty kick in the 4th minute to give the Raptors a 3-0 lead. After 10 minutes of territory ping-pong, RUNY answered back with a penalty kick of their own when Connor Wallace-Sims converted his first attempt in the 14th minute to tie the match at three.
Glendale jumped back out to a 6-3 in the 23rd minute when Taikato-Simpson nailed his second penalty goal of the match. Like the first 20 minutes of the match, the Raptors and RUNY buckled down and played solid defense for the next 10 minutes before Wallace-Sims tied the match with his second penalty goal of the match in the 34th minute.
It wasn’t until the 40th minute that the Raptors finally put a try on the board. Glendale’s first try of the match occurred when eight-man Murphy Taramai picked the ball out of the scrum and rumbled around the left side. After drawing the defender, Taramai spun the ball out wide to wind and MLR’s leading try scorer John Ryberg to give the Raptors a 13-6 lead heading into the half after Taikato-Simpson’s conversion.
The pattern of the match continued well into the second half. Just like the first half, the beginning of the second half consisted of 18 minutes of tough defense. Also like the first half, RUNY responded however they needed to, to tie up the match. They did so in the 58th minute when flanker John Quill picked the ball out of the scrum and rumbled in for a try. Fly-half Cathal Marsh nailed the conversion to tie the match at 13 heading into the 60-minute hydration break.
RUNY didn’t take their first lead of the match until the 75th minute when Harry Bennett hit a penalty goal. It seemed as if RUNY was going to outlast the Raptors and hand them their first MLR loss at home, but then Chad London happened.
With their backs against the wall, Glendale put the ball in inside center Chad London’s hands in the final minutes of the match. He threw a dummy, a fend, and broke a tackle on his way in for what turned out to be the game-winning try. Taikato-Simpson nailed the conversion to seal the deal for the Raptors.
“These are two top tier teams in the league,” Petri said of the back-and-forth match. “Glendale had a lot on the line, we had a lot on the line. We knew it was going to be back and forth all game long. It wasn’t our night, but I have a feeling we may see them again at some point.”
The four points that the Raptors picked up in the victory leaves them in fifth place but boosted them up to 37 total points in the league table and ultimately keep them alive in the hunt for the playoffs. They sit one point behind RUNY – who picked up a bonus point in the loss – for the final playoff spot.
According to Taikato-Simpson, the hunt for the playoff spot was a point of focus in the week leading up to the match.
“Big time,” Taikato-Simpson said of his team’s focus. “The key was desperation this week. We have to win every game from here on out to even have a look at the playoffs. We know what’s on the line every week, we just have to go and get it.”
While the loss hurt RUNY, the bonus point turned out to be huge as teams try to separate themselves in the competition in the race for the playoffs. Petri knows that anything can happen in the remaining weeks.
“There’s still a lot of rugby to be played,” Petri said. “Anything can happen from here on out. We know that we are right in the end and we expect to be there climbing to the top. We’ll rebuild confidence and get back on the horse this week.”
RUNY will look to get back in the win column when they host the Houston SaberCats on Sunday, May 5 while the Raptors will look to keep building momentum against the Utah Warriors on Saturday, May 4 at Infinity Park.
“Keep that same mentality,” Taikato-Simpson said of his team’s mindset moving forward. “Keep desperation as that keyword. We’ve got to sure up a few things. A few penalties in their 22 that gives them easy outs, a few knock-ons and miscues with the passing, but we’ll go back to the drawing board and cue that up.”
Tries: John Ryberg, Chad London
Conversions: Dylan Taikato-Simpson (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Dylan Taikato-Simpson (2/2)
Rugby United New York
Tries: John Quill
Conversions: Cathal Marsh (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Connor Wallace-Sims (2/2), Harry Bennett (1/1)
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