Strong First Half Propels Raptors to Round 12 Victory over Cobras

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Strong First Half Propels Raptors to Round 12 Victory over Cobras

Saturday’s Round 12 match between the American Raptors and Cobras Brasil was one for the books. 

The Raptors (3-7) jumped all over Cobras Brasil (2-9) in the first 35 minutes of the match to take a commanding 37-7 lead over the home side. Or so the Raptors thought.

Cobras would go on to score 33 points and scare the daylights out of the Raptors, who would hang on for the 45-40 bonus-point victory.

The first half that the Raptors put together on Saturday morning was about the best one they’ve ever played since joining Super Rugby Americas ahead of the 2023 season. Mikey Grandy wasted little time getting the Raptors on the board when he sliced through the Cobras defense and in for a try inside the first two minutes of the match. Ignacio Mieres nailed the easy conversion to put the Raptors up 7-0 before Cobras could even blink.

Cobras settled into the match and responded with a try of their own from No. 8 André Arruda a few minutes later to knot the match at seven points apiece at the 10-minute mark. 

The following 25 minutes saw the American Raptors play like a team possessed.

The Raptors used a Mieres penalty goal to retake the lead, and then capitalized on a Cobras Brasil yellow card by rattling off three unanswered tries in a 15-minute window. Francisco Quinn got the party started on a pass from Thomas Morani following a Mieres linebreak. Then, it was Shawn Clark and Will Crawford who teamed up to charge down a clearing kick from deep in Cobras Brasil territory. The ball ricocheted off the two players and rolled into the in-goal where Clark promptly jumped on the ball for the try. The third try saw Clark throw a crafty backhand flick pass to Quinn who raced down the touchline for his second try of the match. 

Before you knew it, the Raptors had taken a 32-7 lead.

A few minutes later, Rufus McLean spotted a gap in the Cobras Brasil defense and took a kick 60 meters back for the Raptors’ fourth-straight try to give the Raptors a 37-7 lead.

Just when it appeared that Cobras had thrown in the towel, they used a long try to cut the lead to 37-14 just before the halftime break. That was the spark they needed to get back into the match.

Cobras came out of the locker room looking like a brand-new team. Cobras set the tone with back-to-back tries from Arruda and wing Ariel Rodrigues to make the comeback look like a real possibility. The Raptors 30 point lead was whittled down to just nine points before Thomas Morani stopped the bleeding and punched in a try of his own. The Raptors extended the lead to 42-28, and gave themselves some breathing room to play with for the remaining 20 minutes of the match.

The Raptors would have to try to hold off the hard-charging Cobras without Koby Baker who was hit with a yellow card in the 57th minute. Cobras continued to walk down the Raptors’ lead with a Endy Willian Pinheiro rolling maul try in the 70th minute. Now clinging to a 42-35 lead, the Raptors would need to string together several phases of offense to try to get to the finish line with a victory. 

That’s exactly what they did. They punished the Cobras defense with phase after phase of offense that eventually forced Cobras into penalty. Quinn made the ensuing penalty goal to extend the lead to 45-35 with just three minutes to play. 

Cobras Brasil wasn’t dead yet, though, and used a scrum deep in Raptors’ territory to put one more try on the board before the final whistle rang through the stadium.

The bonus point victory was big for the Raptors as it kept their playoff hopes alive. With 16 points in the Super Rugby Americas table, they find themselves just six points out of the fourth and final playoff spot with two matches to play. The Raptors will surely be keeping an eye on the Peñarol-Yacare XV result as Peñarol currently sits in fourth place.

The Raptors will now turn their attention to Yacare XV.  After defeating Yacare XV 35-33 in Round 6 at Infinity Park, the Raptors will try to sweep the season series on Saturday, May 18 in Asunción, Paraguay. The match is scheduled to kick off at 5 PM MT. It will be broadcast on ESPN+

American Raptors

Mikey Grandy, Francisco Quinn (2), Shawn Clark, Rufus McLean, Thomas Morani

Ignacio Mieres (3/5), Francisco Quinn (0/1)

Penalty Goals
Ignacio Mieres (2/2), Francisco Quinn (1/1)

Cobras Brasil

André Arruda (2), Agustín Correa Llano, Ariel Rodrigues, Endy Willian Pinheiro, João Amaral

Lucas Tranquez (4/4), João Amaral (2/2)

Penalty Goals

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