Denver Harlequins and the Glendale Raptors DII club did battle at Infinity Stadium on a brisk fall evening Saturday, the outcome of which was not secured until the 78th minute. A slight edge in territory and possession was all that was necessary for the victors to celebrate a much-deserved win.
Glendale roared out of the blocks with a brace of early scores from wing Sam Botkin, one converted by fullback Ben Cappa, and it was 12-0 by ten and one wondered whether these were the same sides that drew last month in fierce competition just over a mile east at Cook Park, Denver’s homefield.
That notion was summarily dispelled as the Quins forwards banged their way in tight pods into Raptor territory just inside Glendale’s ten-meter line where the Raptors were pinged for entering the ruck from the side and fullback Dave Jaeger put Denver onboard in the 13th minute with a well-slotted penalty strike.
For the next 25 the match became one of attrition where ground gained by the boot as well as that managed by adroit maulwork from both sides was lost to the niggling penalty, knock-on or slightly forward pass.
Just before the break, backrow forward Clinton Camp scooped ball from a won 5 meter scrum and darted between a pair of defenders for the dot and it was a comfortable 17-3 lead for Glendale as the lads hit the lockers.
Now it was Denver’s turn to roar from the getgo, and they did so with gusto. After hard yards won by Harlequins pack to stabilize a platform close to Glendale’s goal, ball swung swiftly wide found wing Mike Boyle finishing a fine movement in the corner and with Jaeger’s precise closure it was 17-10 to the home side, but one began to think, “Hey!” at minute 42.
A little magic from the toe of standoff Shane Milek and a bit of a bobble in collection thereof, and it was a turnover ball for the visitors and center Chris Margrett outpaced the catchers into goal for the try. 17-15 at minute 45 and things were heating up!
But Camp dotted his second after a nearly identical pick-and-stick and Glendale increased its margin to nine at 51. Four minutes later a Cappa penalty goal made it 27-15 and momentum swung back to the home team.
Harlequins surged after Raptors #9 was shown yellow and Jaeger slotted to draw his side back to within nine as the final ten loomed. With Quins pressuring from the loose at Raptors 22, a nifty double fake by Milek brought Margrett back inside and into space. One jink to secure an open lane, and the speedster was across for a Jaeger conversion and Denver were within a deuce at 72, stadium crowd standing and vocal.
But it was Camp who had the last word, touching down the third score of his hat trick in the 78th minute to increase Glendale’s lead to a goal at 32-25. And though the Quins got on the front foot at the re-start, turning ball over and threatening, a foul for handling at the breakdown enabled Glendale to boot to touch and with the final whistle the result of the hard-fought contest was recorded.
Next up for Glendale will be a top o’ the table clash as they host Colorado Springs on Saturday while Harlequins host Denver Queen City at Cook Park on the day.
Glendale Raptors 32 (17)
Tries: Botkin (2), Camp (3)
Convs: Cappa (2)
Denver Harlequins 25 (3)
Tries: Boyle, Margrett (2)
Convs: Jaeger (2)
Pens: Jaeger (2)
Referee: T. Luscombe