Stormers Tie Merlins in Hard Fought Battle
Glendale 46 – Little Rock 46
As a rugby-filled day unfolded in Glendale on Saturday, sunshine and mild temperatures were punctuated by strong winds. The Merlins Men’s Division I team hosted the Little Rock Stormers, a team they’d defeated handily earlier in the season. Mid-season adjustments, both in their structures and roster, produced a much-improved Little Rock squad, however. The game was tight from the start, with both teams displaying strength on offense and defense.
Photo by Seth McConnell
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Glendale came out strong after kickoff, scoring a try just two minutes into the match. Little Rock answered with tries of their own at 5 and 9 minutes, converting the latter. The Merlins responded with tries at 13, 26, and 28 minutes, converting on the third scoring drive. Following a converted Stormers try, Glendale closed the opening half with a try and conversion of their own, entering the break with a 29-22 advantage.
Little Rock mounted an offensive push coming into the second half, finding the goal twice and converting each time. The Stormers also put in a penalty kick, putting the team ahead 39-29 in the 64th minute. Glendale found their stride offensively, scoring a penalty kick of their own alongside two converted tries, all in just 10 minutes of game play. A debatably controversial call from the referee led to a Stormers try in the 80th minute, the conversion of which brought the scores even at the final whistle. The 46-46 score marks an achievement for the Little Rock squad, demonstrating considerable improvement as the season pushes on.
Merlins Head Coach Luke Gross was understandably disappointed with the developments in the final moments of the game, but many years’ experience shined through in his post-game reflection: “One play doesn’t define the match. We’ll keep moving forward. We’ve got to win the games that we’ve got to win.” The Merlins Player of the Match was scrumhalf Trevor Wilder.
Competition in the Division I Red River Conference wasn’t the only action this weekend. Led by Head Coach Angie Cranmore, the Merlins Women’s Division I bested the Boulder Rugby Football Club 49-32, earning victory on Infinity Park’s turf field.
The Merlins next game is again at home, when the team will host the Dallas Harlequins at 3pm Mountain Time. Glendale will also field their Division II Men’s team, taking on the Denver Harlequins. The D1 Women’s team will host the Utah Vipers, while Glendale’s Academy squad will travel to Orem, Utah to face Utah Valley 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.