Elite Women's Rugby NewsGlendale Merlins Rugby
Glendale Merlins Rugby dominate
GLENDALE – It was another action-packed rugby weekend at Infinity Park as the Glendale Merlins men and women hosted top competition in another double header.
Once again, both home sides dominated, with the Merlins men bringing home a 64-10 victory over visiting New York Athletic Club (NYAC) in a non-league match while the Merlins women continued their undefeated run in the Women’s Premier League, dispatching Oregon Sports Union (ORSU) by a score of 32-17.
Photo by Seth McConnell
The men kicked off the afternoon’s events, facing a NYAC side stacked with its share of USA Eagles.
Glendale started the match out slowly, giving up possession multiple times in the opening minutes before eventually breaking through with a converted penalty to take a 3-0 lead 12 minutes into the match.
“We started a little slow in the first half and NYAC came out very physical,” explained Merlins hooker Zach Fenoglio. “We weren’t executing a lot of the simple things very well to begin with and that lead to some struggles to begin the game.”
Glendale eventually settled, scoring four consecutive tries to build a 31-0 lead. But the visitors found the try zone just before the half to cut the lead to 31-5.
“At half, we had a big chat about taking a breath and getting back to the basics,” Fenoglio said. “NYAC came out strong and put us under pressure in the set piece. They are a quality team and credit to them on capitalizing on our mistakes, especially in the first half.”
Glendale found its scoring legs much faster in the second half, extending the lead to 38-5 with a Peter Dahl try four minutes into the second stanza.
“Pete Dahl had another amazing game,” Fenoglio said of his teammate. “His leadership and knowledge of the game is invaluable and he truly leads by his actions. It’s an honor to get to play with that guy.”
It would be the first of three unanswered second half tries for the Merlins as they built up a 52-5 advantage by the 67th minute. New York would finally answer with a try from Seamus Kelly, scoring his second of the match to cut the lead to 51-10. But Glendale would tack on two more scores before the final whistle, leaving the match with a 64-10 victory.
Yet despite the score line and the win, there is still much to be worked on in the eyes of Glendale men’s head coach David Williams.
“We were very poor today in our effort, number of turnovers and general lack of work rate and physicality,” Williams said. “The score line flattered us.”
The Merlins will look to clean up their play as they prepare to host another storied New York rugby club next Saturday in New York Old Blue (3 p.m.).
As Fenoglio explained, “We are our biggest critic and we always look to hold ourselves to a higher standard. The key after every game is see where we came short and get them sorted out and move forward. Old Blue is a very talented team and will capitalize on our mistakes so we need to shore up some areas and make sure we are all on the same page because it will be a hard-fought game for 80 minutes next week.”
Following the men’s victory, the Glendale Merlins women took to the pitch against ORSU. It was another defensive struggle for the first quarter hour of play between the two sides until Glendale broke through, turning defense into offense as Justine Wypych’s interception led to the first try of the match and a 7-0 Merlins lead.
ORSU would respond with a converted penalty to cut the lead to 7-3, but another try and converted penalty would extend Glendale’s advantage to 15-3 just past the half-hour mark. Capping a first half which began as a defensive deadlock and ended with offensive excitement, Anna Symonds scored ORSU’s first try of the match, to close the lead to just a try, 15-10 at halftime.
But the second half would begin just as the first did, with Glendale and ORSU holding each other out of the try zones for nearly another quarter hour of play. The Merlins would finally get the ball moving, however, ending with a dynamic run from Carmen Farmer which she would cap with a try, giving the hosts a 20-10 lead and bloodying Farmer’s face in the process.
It would spark some more offense from Glendale, with Christian Suda finding the try zone minutes later and cushioning the Merlins lead to 25-10 in the 62nd minute. Ten minutes later, Jenny Lui would score the third consecutive Merlins try to extend Glendale’s lead to 32-10 with under 10 minutes remaining.
Symonds would get her second try of the match for the visitors however as ORSU would get the final try of the match, but fall as Glendale held on for the 32-17 victory.
The victory moved Glendale’s record to a perfect 4-0 in WPL play this season, but as the Merlins women have preached all year long, each win is just a small step towards their ultimate goal.
“We would really like to see ourselves win the championship again,” said Merlins women’s head coach Kitt Ruiz. “We had some skills that were lacking last year so that’s our focus now and we’d love to take it this year.”
Up next for the Glendale Merlins WPL team is another league match at home as they host the Berkeley All-Blues next Saturday at Infinity Park (5 p.m.).
Stadium gates will open at 2 p.m. and tickets for both Glendale Merlins matches are available online at glendalemerlins.com or for purchase at the gate.
- 1pm: Men’s D2 vs Park City Haggis (turf field)
- 3pm: Men’s Elite vs New York Old Blue (stadium & live stream)
- 5pm: Women’s Premier League team vs Berkeley All-Blues (stadium & live stream)
Tickets are on sale now at glendalemerlins.com/buy-tickets