American Raptors Close Season with Road Win Over Cobras Brasil

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American Raptors Close Season with Road Win Over Cobras Brasil
Photo: Gaspafotos

The American Raptors saved one of their best performances for their final match of the 2023 Super Rugby Americas season.

The Raptors (2-10) were roughly thirty seconds away from shutting out a gritty Cobras Brasil XV in the second half, outscoring the home side 12-5 and escaping São Paulo with a 38-34 victory. 

Sunday’s victory marked the Raptors first road victory in their inaugural Super Rugby Americas season, and it also saw them leapfrog Cobras Brasil (2-10) in the league table. Despite the two clubs finishing the season with the same record, the Raptors finished the season with more points in the table thanks to Sunday’s victory. 

It was apparent from the opening kickoff that neither team wanted to be the ones holding the wooden spoon at the end of the 80 minutes. It was Cobras Brasil that struck first, jumping out to a quick 10-0 lead with a Lucas Spago penalty goal and a Sergio Luna try. 

The Raptors responded with a try of their own a few minutes later when Ryan James raced around the defense and gathered a Line Latu grubber in the in-goal. 

The match seemed to be unraveling quickly for Cobras. With the Raptors finding their offensive footing, Cobras was hit with back-to-back yellow cards in a minute. The Raptors capitalized on their two-man advantage with Ronan Murphy rumbling in for his second try in as many weeks off the weekside of a scrum. Lucas Gonzalez’s conversion gave the Raptors a 12-10 lead – their first of the match – and the Raptors seemed primed to take over.

Despite playing down two players, Cobras had other plans. They proceeded to rattle off two tries over the next 10 minutes to take a 24-12 lead and regain control of the match. 

The rest of the first half was a slog for the Raptors. They responded with a Diego Magno try – his second on the year – to cut the lead to seven points, but then conceded to give up a try to Cobras on the kickoff. Just like that, Cobras lead 29-19 in the 36th minute.

Conceding a late first half try has spelled disaster for the Raptors in 2023. Especially over the last three weeks, conceding late first half tries have been the difference between winning and losing for the Raptors and that seemed to be the case again on Sunday. 

This time, though, it was the Raptors that stole the momentum with a Payton Telea-Ilalio try just before the buzzer that cut Cobras Brail’s lead to just three points at the break. 

After a high-flying first half that saw both team score four tries apiece, the second half was a defensive battle.

After nearly 20 scoreless minutes, the Murphy finally found some daylight and broke the Cobras defense. After passes to Martin Landajo, Diego Fortuny, and Watson Filikitonga, fullback Line Latu got the scoring started with a try to give the Raptors a 31-29 lead. 

The Raptors pushed their lead to nine points with a Seimou Smith try in the corner eight minutes later, but they weren’t out of the woods yet. They kept the pressure on Cobras by playing spirited defense, but finally broke in the 80th minute when Cobras powered in for a after Diego Magno was hit with a yellow card. Spago was unable to hit the conversion, though, so Cobras would need to find a way to score one more try with their final possession. 

Despite a threating linebreak, they were unable to complete the comeback. The Raptors hung on to defeat Cobras Brasil 38-34 and avoided finishing the season in the Super Rugby Americas cellar.

SCORING

American Raptors

Tries
Ryan James, Ronan Murphy, Diego Magno, Payton Telea-Ilalio, Line Latu, Seimou Smith

Conversions
Lucas Gonzalez (4/5) Line Latu (0/1)

Penalty Goals
N/A

Cobras Brasil XV

Tries
Sergio Luna, Douglas Rauth, Robson Morais, Matheus Cláudio, Gabriel Oliveira

Conversions
Lucas Spago (3/5)

Penalty Goals
Lucas Spago (1/1)

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