Frisco’s Connor Cook contributes to Glendale Raptors victory in first-ever Major League Rugby game
Led in part by Frisco’s Connor Cook, the Glendale Raptors defeated Austin Elite Rugby in the franchise’s inaugural Major League Rugby match as the league itself launched on Saturday with the game broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
The MLR’s maiden season got underway with the Raptors’ eventual 41-26 win at Infinity Park, and it was the 27-year-old Frisco native, Cook, who helped Glendale to respond in the 32nd minute with a try that gave the team a 24-7 advantage into the break. The halftime lead only came after the Texas side drew first blood, touching down for five points 14 minutes in, and converting to take an early 7-0 lead.
The Raptors further looked in form entering the second half, with fullback Maximo de Achaval touching down a try four minutes into the period. Raptors flyhalf Will Magie converted to put the team up 31-7. Glendale’s Harley Davidson, who plays both winger and fullback, found the try zone again at 47 minutes, and with the successful conversion, further extended the Raptors lead.
A minute later, the Raptors lost Ben Landry for the remainder of the match, as he was red carded for a dangerous tackle. Austin capitalized on the penalty, finding the try zone at 52 minutes and converting to cut into the Glendale lead. The Texas team would put more points up at 59 minutes, converting to bring the match within striking distance.
A missed penalty kick by the Raptors’ Magie in the 64th minute kept things even, and a flurry of penalties in the minutes that followed saw Austin again knocking on the door.
The rough and tumble match came to a head 72 minutes in, when the back row Cook was red carded for a tackle the ref deemed too vigorous. A yellow card on Raptor prop Kelepi Fifita just two minutes later furthered Austin’s numbers advantage, meaning the Glendale side had to finish the match three men down.
Austin touched down for five more points in the 75th minute, but missed the conversion, bringing the score to 38-26 in Glendale’s favor. With time quickly running out, the Raptors secured victory off the foot of Magie. Burning precious seconds, Magie converted a penalty attempt to push the Raptors advantage to 41-26 in the 80th minute, sealing the team’s first professional win.
John Quill was named Man of the Match. The Raptors second game of the regular season will see the team on the road, traveling to Seattle to take on the Seawolves on April 28 at 8:30 p.m. MST (CBS Sports Network).
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