Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
Article courtesy of BYU Rugby
Tucson, AZ—The BYU Cougars beat the Arizona Wildcats by the score of 70-12 today to be the first team to punch their ticket to the 2011 College Premier Division playoffs.
With the win BYU moves to 11-0 overall and 6-0 in Western Conference play and sits alone atop the conference.
If the Cougars were to lose their final regular season game to Arizona State on April 30th BYU will still finish no worse than 2nd since and still advance to the post-season. A win over ASU will give the Cougars the Western Conference title and secure a home playoff game for their CPD quarterfinal match up on May 7th against the Eastern Conference #2 seed.
“We’re happy to win today,” said BYU head coach David Smyth, “It was a bit sloppy at times, but we have a spot in the playoffs and now we just need to work towards getting a home game in the first round.”
With an uncharacteristic set of weather conditions for Tucson the Cougars and Wildcats played in the cold and the rain and it was a tight first 10 minutes as BYU only led by 1 point at 7-6.
BYU’s opening points came from a converted quick tap try by captain No. 8 Ryan Roundy in the 2nd minute while Arizona’s points were tallied off the boot of Arizona’s Mike Getzler, who notched two penalty goals. One of the kicks was scored with room to spare from 49 meters.
As the Cougars’ struggled with their set pieces BYU’s scoring opportunities were few in the opening quarter of the game.
BYU however still found a way to score with hat-trick-scorer and flanker Hynie Leaaetoa scrambling for his first try from turn over ball in the 25th minute. His effort-based scores were pre-empted by Lock Viliami Vimahi’s burrowing try in the 10th minute.
Center Dylan Lubbe stepped his way into the end zone from 35 meters out five minutes later and the Cougars took a 17-6 lead after two successive missed conversions.
The Cougars also struggled in total with their kicking in the poor conditions, as three BYU kickers were cumulatively successful on just 5 out 12 opportunities. Other kicks during open play were also misplaced into touch bringing a number of ensuing opposition lineouts back into BYU territory.
Leaaetoa scored one of the Cougars’ next two tries to close out the half in the 30th minute.
Another long penalty kick from Arizona’s Metzler in the 32nd minute rounded out the Wildcats’ first half scoring. BYU got another chance to dot down in the 38th minute as freshman center Jared Whippy blocked a would-be Arizona clearing kick. The blocked kick was regathered by lock Viliami Vimahi 20 meters from the Wildcat tryline.
Vimahi off-loaded to a supporting prop Ray Forrester who, after a charging a few short meters, then off-loaded back to the Vimahi. Vimahi finally linked with the original playmaker Whippy who dragged a few Arizona defenders over the line for his 6th try in CPD action.
The Whippy try was converted and at half time it was BYU leading 38-9 with 6 tries to Arizona’s three penalty kicks.
The Cougars tallied another six tries in the second and the scoring started quickly in the second half after flanker Apenisa Malani dummied off the kick off to make long 30 meter break.
The recycled ball ended up in the hands of scrumhalf Shaun Davies who kicked a well-placed ball behind the Wildcats defense to change the field position heavily in favor of the Cougars.
After a 5 meter scrum to the Wildcats on their own goal line BYU would pressure and create a turnover. The ensuing phases saw a quick ball from Leaaetoa to freshman flyhalf Josh Webber who lunged for the try in the 42nd minute.
The final penalty goal from Arizona in the 50th minute made the score 43 to 12 in favor the Cougars.
More pressure from the BYU defense saw Leaaetoa score his third try in the 52nd minute. Roundy touched down again in the 55th minute from another quick tap to push BYU further in the lead.
The Cougars continued to lay on the tries with hooker Ishmael Tilialo and Vimahi both seeing the endzone in the 62nd and 73rd minutes respectively. BYU reserve wing Konner Wiscombe scooped up a loose ball in the 78th minute and round out the scoring in favor of the Cougars.
With the less than ideal weather BYU’s Smyth was pleased with his team’s performance on the road.
“The conditions slowed us down a bit,” he said, “It made it sloppy a bit, as did some of our execution and decision-making. But all in all the boys played well against a good team.”
The third straight road blowout win for the Cougars marks the final road game of the regular season.
The Cougars now have the next week off for finals before they prepare for a non-conference tilt with Dixie State College at home on South on April 23rd before they square off with the Sun Devils of Arizona State in their regular season and Western Conference finale.
A win over the Sun Devils the Cougars locks up the overall Western Conference title and guarantees BYU a home playoff game for the CPD quarterfinals the next weekend on May 7th.
BYU vs. University of Arizona
1-Mikey Su’a (Inoke Hafoka @ 70’) 2-Ishmael Tilialo (Chad Harker @ 70’) 3-Ray Forrester 4-Mark Bonham (Spencer Wolfley @ 72’) 5-Viliami Vimahi 6-Apenisa Malani (David Williams @ 72’) 7-Hynie Leaaetoa 8-Ryan Roundy © (Kumi Tua’one @ 55’) 9-Shaun Davies 10-Josh Webber 11-Zeke Mendenhall (Jeff Ott @ 70’) 12-Jared Whippy (Konner Wiscombe @ 70’) 13-Dylan Lubbe 14-Joseph Nicholls 15-Andrew Harrison