Merlins Rugby took flight away from Infinity Park
GLENDALE – Glendale Merlins Rugby took flight away from Infinity Park this weekend with road matches for both men’s and women’s teams. In Women’s Premier League (WPL) action, the Merlins women continued their undefeated start to the season in a 10-7 game which will officially count as a tie [called due to lightning]. For the Glendale Merlins men, it was another win, defeating Life University in a closely contested 22-15 result.
Photo by Seth McConnell
The Running Eagles presented a formidable opponent for the Merlins men as their college counterparts are recent winners of Collegiate National Championships in 2013 and 2016. Saturday’s matchup would also mark the first road test for Glendale this season.
“They were an impressive and physical opponent,” Merlins men’s head coach David Williams said. “Life stepped up physically and contested the break down and we didn’t build the phases.”
The Merlins were held scoreless for a good share of the opening half, finally breaking through for a try in the 28th minute to take a 7-0 lead. The hosts responded with a try of their own however, and Glendale entered halftime with a narrow 7-5 advantage at the break.
Energized by keeping the game close, Life University took its first lead of the game in the second half, scoring a penalty to take an 8-7 lead four minutes into the second half. Glendale scored its second try of the match minutes later to re-take the lead at 14-8. The Merlins would extend that lead to 19-8 with another try in the 63rd minute.
Life University would cut that lead to 19-15 with less than six minutes remaining, but Glendale would cap the game with a converted penalty, winning the match 22-15. It marked another Merlins’ win, but Williams was frustrated by multiple mistakes and penalties by his side.
“We need to be more patient with ball in hand and build pressure through possession,” he said. “Three yellow cards showed a lack of discipline.”
The Merlins will look to clean things up as they prepare for another road trip and a rematch against New York Old Blue on Oct. 21.
“We need to work on our defensive shape as Old Blue want to play fast,” Williams said of the next match. “We need to keep to our structures as we needed to last week and increase our accuracy on attack.”
Playing in Chicago, the Glendale Merlins women looked to remain atop the WPL table as they faced off with league newcomers Chicago North Shore.
In the teams’ previous meeting, Glendale won by a score of 20-6 at Infinity Park. But on their home turf, North Shore struck first in the rematch with a try and a 7-0 lead in the rainy conditions.
The Merlins would respond with a try from Jenny Lui, but it would go unconverted, closing the gap to 7-5 seven minutes later. Glendale would then tack on another try shortly after, with the Merlins taking their first lead of the match at 10-7.
The rainy conditions would intensify, causing multiple delays of the match. A lightning delay would suspend the match indefinitely, ending the game at 10-5. The match will officially be recorded as a tie in the standings, but the Merlins remain without a blemish on their record this season.
The Merlins Elite Women will continue their WPL campaign back home at Infinity Park next Saturday (5 p.m.). That match will be preceded by the Merlins U20 men taking on the University of Colorado at 3 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase at the gate or online.