Glendale Merlins host Dallas Rugby Reds in Tough Divisional Match at Infinity Park
Following a decisive victory against the Dallas Harlequins on March 24, the Merlins have enjoyed a week of rest and preparation for this weekend’s match. The Dallas Rugby Reds lead the conference narrowly over the Austin Blacks, with Glendale closing the gap: the team finding its stride late in the season. The Merlins will face the Reds April 7 on Infinity Park’s turf field at 2pm Mountain Time.
Photo by Justin Purdy
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Merlins Head Coach Luke Gross has noted that the Dallas squad is among the strongest in the Red River Conference, logging just a single defeat to this point in the season. Asked about Saturday’s match, Gross noted the competition will be stiff: “This is a very big match. They beat us early in the season and they’re a well-drilled, physical team. We need to meet their physicality in the contact area.”
Though injury has plagued the Merlins squad in their inaugural season in the division, the team seems to have found a new determination, with players meshing well together in unfamiliar roles. On top of that adaptability, Gross expects most of the players will be healthy for the Saturday match. Reflecting on the performance against the Harlequins on March 24, Gross’s sporting wisdom reinforced that the team is still growing: “We put a strong performance in against the ‘Quins,” he said. “We got up early and kind of tapered off, but after some halftime encouragement the team finished really strong. There was an important lesson learned: no matter what the score is, every possession is a new start.”
Playing on Infinity Park’s turf field will work to the benefit of the Merlins, and Coach Gross is aware that he’ll need every advantage possible against the strong Dallas side: “It’s always an advantage to play at home. It’s tough to travel, especially in a non-professional sport setting. I hope that we can put together the performance that we’re capable of.”
Saturday will be an exciting day of rugby for the Glendale squads, with the Merlins D1 Men’s team hosting Dallas, while the Glendale Raptors Rugby Academy travels to Bloomington, Indiana to take on Indiana University. The professional Glendale Raptors team will also be on the road, visiting New York for a friendly against NY Athletic Club. Most of the Glendale teams will be on the road the following Saturday, April 14. The Merlins D1 Men’s next game will be away, the team traveling to Dallas for a second match against the Harlequins. The D2 team will take on Park City Rugby in Park City, Utah, and the Raptors Academy will be in Logan, Utah, facing Utah State University. Glendale’s Division I Women’s team will again host Denver Black Ice on Infinity Park’s turf field.
Follow all of the Glendale teams on Facebook and Twitter for full-time scores on all games and additional information. All Glendale Merlins home games will be played on Infinity Park’s turf field in 2018, and are free and open to the public.