The Glendale Raptor Women’s Rugby Club placed fifth at the 2011 Emirates Airline USA Rugby Women’s All-Star 7s Championship this past weekend, defeating the San Diego Surfers and bringing home the plate title.
As the sole team from the west in the club sevens championships, Glendale entered the tournament as the ninth seed. The tournament schedule consisted of four games on Saturday and three games on Sunday.
The Raptors played the Seattle Breakers in the first match of the tournament, posting an impressive 29-0 win. Game two brought a more challenging opponent, the DC Furies, who boast several women’s national team players and former Women’s National 7s Head Coach Sue Parker. Glendale fought hard, but came up short 12-17. In the third match the San Diego Surfers beat Glendale soundly, putting up numerous tries on the Raptors. But the Raptors bounced back and beat the favored Atlanta Harlequins in their fourth match of the day, taking the third seed going into Sunday’s semifinals.
As the third seed in Pool B, the Raptors faced the second seed in Pool A – the Berkeley All Blues and the eventual 2011 All-Star 7s Champions. The Raptors put up a good fight, but could not contain Berkeley’s speedy and powerful runners, losing 27-5. After losing to Berkeley, the Raptors were out of contention for the championship, so they focused on bringing home the plate. In the plate semi-final game, Glendale tackled Philadelphia and came out on top, winning a close match 7-5. With the win in hand, Glendale advanced to the plate final, facing the San Diego Surfers for the second time that weekend and the fourth time in eight months.
The Raptors came out strong against San Diego and were determined to put up a “W” on the Surfers, who took second at last year’s Championship. The first half was evenly matched, with both teams playing solid defense and showing impressive continuity on offense. Glendale flyhalf Hannah Stolba put the first points on the board with a fast-paced line break, scoring right beneath the posts. Scrumhalf Sara Edwards’ conversion was good, setting the score at 7-0 heading into half-time.
The Surfers got a break just after half-time when the Raptors received a penalty for hands in the ruck five meters out from the try line. San Diego quick tapped, spun it down the line and scored on the outside. Facing a difficult conversion kick from the side, the Surfers missed, leaving the Raptors ahead at 7-5.
The Raptors found their groove and kept the ball alive with great support runs and continuity. In the last play of the game, captain Bethany Zick-Wilson took the ball into contact at midfield and with two supporting ruckers the Raptors passed the ball out wide to their forwards who made a 40-meter break down the field and came inches short of the try line. After a quick ruck, prop Taryn Brennan dove for the try zone, adding another five points to the scoreboard. The kick after was unsuccessful, but the whistle marked the end of the match, sending the Raptors back to Colorado with the plate championship.
“The Lady Raptors had a great weekend of sevens in San Francisco,” said Head Coach Laura Hertel. “The tournament was a good gauge to see where we stand among the other teams in the nation.”
“We started the season with a great group of athletes who didn’t have a lot of sevens experience and we ended the season competing against some of the top teams in the nation,” she added. “We have a great base to build on for next year.”
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