The Glendale Raptors recorded their second-straight victory over a Super League opponent, defeating the Chicago Griffins 24-5 at Infinity Park, in Glendale, Colo.
Despite the chilly conditions, supporters were treated to a red hot game of rugby as the two teams fought it out.
Glendale took an early lead when captain and No 8 Nic Johnson picked up from the back of the scrum scored in the 8th minute.
In the 15th minute, Chicago inside center Charlie Baleirara powered his way through Glendale’s defense to score and level the teams 5-5. Neither of the teams was able to capitalize on their other opportunities in the first half.
After a scrappy first half, Glendale returned to the field determined to improve their execution, and this they did. Nine minutes into the second period fullback James Paterson scored as try that turned the momentum in the Raptors’ favor.
Directly from a lineout the Glendale backs attacked. Flyhalf Nese Malifa spun a wife pass to Paterson, and the Eagle turned on the pace to score in the righthand corner.
Malifa, who had struggled with accuracy from his boot in the first half, slotted the difficult conversion to make it 12-5.
The Griffins were still within a try, but that wasn’t the case after the 55th minute, when sub forward Stan Moaalii, scored a sensational try. After some good handling down the backline and a ruck, Moaalii used his brute strength to push his way over the line and touch down. Malifa once again kicked the conversion and the scoreboard read 19-5.
Paterson then ended the Glendale second-half surge in the 58th minute with a try which showed off his professional rugby experience, as the former Otago and Canterbury star spotted the gaps and sliced up the Griffin defense to touch down.
Chicago put up strong resistance and did well to keep it 0-0 for the last 20 minutes, but scoring opportunities were hard to come by.
“During the first period we had difficulty getting our support to the breakdown and Chicago capitalized by poaching our ball or slowing it down thus making our attack ineffective,” said Glendale Head Coach Mark Bullock. “We corrected our tackle contest problems at halftime and came out with renewed focus in that area of the game. This allowed us to maintain more continuity which ultimately resulted in our three second half tries.”
Nic Johnson, who was enormous on defense and helped get his team go-forward with the ball was named Man of the Match.
Tries: Johnson, Paterson 2, Moaallii
Convs: N. Malifa
Chicago Griffins 5