Merlins Bested By Undefeated Austin Blacks
Glendale 36 – Austin 45
Playing their first home game of the season, the Glendale Merlins D1 team was narrowly defeated by the Austin Blacks. Under partly cloudy skies and in cool, windy conditions, the Merlins lost in a toss up game that saw high-level play from both teams. Head Coach Luke Gross was understandably disappointed, but touted his team’s character: “We jumped on them from the start, which is kind of what happened when they hosted us for the season opener. We jumped to a quick lead, with two very good tries, and then they started to claw their way back.”
Photo by Justin Purdy
Playing on Infinity Park’s turf field, the Merlins scored tries at 4, 10, and 24 minutes, setting the offensive pace in the first half, but the cool temps and gusty wind proved tiring. The Glendale team expended a lot of energy before the break, and coach Gross believes it impacted the overall match outcome: “We played a bit too hard in the first half. We had the wind in our face and it was a factor.”
In spite of the conditions, Glendale came off the break strong, scoring just 7 minutes into the second half. The team put more points on the board as the game progressed, but Austin’s offense proved formidable. The full time score tells the tale of a close game, hard fought by both teams. Gross touted the level of play from his squad, acknowledging exceptional efforts from scrum half Trevor Wilder and flanker Lindani Myeni. Gross was also very complimentary of the competition: “Hats off to the Blacks. They stayed at it the entire game. They never quit.”
Asked about preparation for this week, Gross said that the Merlins need to focus on tackling, but was adamant that the team will continue to improve and move on in the division. “Tackling was a big issue for us,” he said. “We were there to make the plays and just didn’t convert. This week we’re back on the horse. We’ll focus on the tackle contest area a bit, but we’re just going to keep going forward.”
The Merlins next game is again at home, when the team will host the 1-4 Little Rock Stormers at 3pm Mountain Time. The 17th will be a day full of elite club-level rugby for Glendale, with nearly all of the non-professional teams competing. The Merlins Women’s D1 team will host the Boulder Rugby Football Club in a non-league match at 10am MT and the Merlins Men’s Division II team will host Boulder RFC at noon. The U23 team will travel to Ft. Collins, CO to take on Colorado State University.
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.