Merlins Rugby News#MerlinsMagic off the press
Glendale Merlins Men and Women Conquer “the Blues”
GLENDALE – The Glendale Merlins Men and Women took flight for another enthralling weekend of rugby at Infinity Park and the hosts did their best to prevent it from being a case of “the Blues”.
The Glendale Merlins men, hosting New York Old Blue put together perhaps their most complete performance of 2017 in a 76-35 win. The Glendale Merlins women retained their place atop the standings and an undefeated record in WPL play with a captivating 29-14 win over the visiting Berkeley All Blues.
Photo by Seth McConnell
Hosting one of America’s oldest clubs, it was the Merlins who struck first, building up a 15-7 lead in the first quarter hour with multiple tries from both sides. Glendale quickly ballooned that lead to 34-7. But two unanswered tries before the half by Old Blue kept things close as the two sides entered the half with Glendale leading 34-21.
“Overall, it was our best team performance this season,” expressed Glendale Merlins head coach David Williams. “We had good shape on attack and winning the physicality and getting over the gain line and good accuracy with our catch pass and decision making. We let them back in the game at the end of the first half which was disappointing, but started strongly in the second and put the game beyond Old Blue.”
Glendale found another gear to start the second half, scoring three-straight tries to build the lead to 55-21. Old Blue finally found the try zone to cut the lead to 55-28 at the 50-minute mark. The Merlins continued to push the tempo with more tries, including one which capped a Dustin Croy hat trick to 69-28. Old Blue would only score one more try, but Glendale would respond once more, capping the game with a final try for the 76-35 victory.
All in all, it was a good team performance and showing of form from the Glendale men.
Said Williams, “James Delbozque put in a great performance for the 80 minute. Ben Landry did well after a poor showing last week and had some strong carries and good defensive efforts. Shaun Davies controlled the game. The whole back row: John Quill, Connor Cook and Pete Dahl were sharp and efficient on both sides of the ball.”
Up next for the Glendale men is a road trip to Atlanta to take on Life University.
“We want to just keep improving,” said Williams. “We have two games left in the season and want to end on a high.”
Photo by Seth McConnell
For the Glendale Merlins women, it was all about maintaining momentum, having started their Women’s Premier League (WPL) campaign with four-straight wins and an undefeated 4-0 record. But the Merlins would face a tough test in the Berkeley All Blues, one of the stronger sides in the WPL.
Like the previous match from the men, the Merlins women would also strike first blood, as Hannah Stolba offloaded to winger Denali Graham, scoring the try to give the Merlins a 5-0 lead.
All Blues would respond on defense, intercepting to score a try and converting to take their first lead, 7-5. Berkeley would also get things going offensively, scoring another try and extending their lead to 14-7 over the hosting Merlins.
“Berkeley is a very dangerous team: tons of team speed, very physical forwards, and they have the ability to just play what they see,” explained Merlins captain Sarah Chobot.
But the Merlins would show resilience with another try, going unconverted but cutting the deficit to 14-10 at halftime.
Glendale would push for another try, with Carmen Farmer scoring to start things off in the second half and take a 17-14 lead at the 53-minute mark.
Farmer would follow that up with her second try of the match to push the lead to 22-14 seven minutes later.
Justine Wypych would score another try to push the lead further, and the Merlins would stonewall their opponents defensively in the second half to gain a hard earned 29-14 win.
“We are heading into the second half of the season and things have really taken shape and been shaking up as far as the table goes,” Chobot said. “We are in that mid-season grind, where the season feels long and Championship weekend is still a long way off, people are starting to now have knicks and pains. It’s dangerous times for us as a team! We are sitting top of the table with a big fat bullseye on us.”
The Merlins women will travel to face newcomers Chicago North Shore next weekend before hosting the San Diego Surfers on Oct. 21. at Infinity Park (5 p.m.). Tickets are available for purchase at the gate or online at the Buy Tickets page.