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BYU vs St. Mary's. Karen Drinkwater Photo.

St. Mary’s continued its strong start to the season with a 55-12 win over Utah. Both teams were preparing for conference play next week and the game proved to be a solid tune up for both sides.

The Gaels jumped out to a 34 point advantage before Utah managed to get on the board. Aaron Matthews opened the scoring early and Holden Yungert scored minutes later to take a 12-0 lead. St. Mary’s added two more tries within a couple minutes to put the game away early.

Chris McDonnell extended the lead to 29-0 before Vili Helu tallied his second of the day. Utah finally got on the board with five minutes to go in the half to cut the lead to 34-5.

The Gaels dominated the first half, led by flanker Alec Barton and flyhalf Mike McCarthy.

“I loved the way we played in the first half. We played some pretty attractive rugby, error free rugby,” said St. Mary’s coach Tim O’Brien. “It was a nice piece of business.”

As good as St. Mary’s played in the first half, it struggled a bit in the second. The Gaels ran on a number of subs in the second stanza and the penalties and turnovers increased. 

“We made some changes at halftime, still just like everybody else experimenting with various combinations. The majority of the changes we made were in the backs and the majority of the errors we had were in the backs,” O”Brien added.  Our defense, however, overall was really solid with our defensive shape and our tackle percentage remaining intact."

Utah managed to add one more try and limited the Gaels to 21 second half points. The game ended 55-12.

Overall, it was a solid tune up for both squads. St. Mary’s will open conference play against rival Santa Clara next week while Utah will make another 12 hour trek to play Cal on the road.

“Utah prepared us as we move into conference play next week. Having them come out here through the snow in Sierra was a huge help to us as we move forward in the season,” said O’Brien. "For them, they will make a similar trip next week to take on Cal."