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In the second part of a home and away series with the Glendale Raptors, Brigham Young University nearly pulled off the upset losing by two points, 41-39. After losing 57-12 in early February in Glendale, Colo., the Cougars improved immensely in Saturday’s match and will use the experience in the upcoming D1A Playoffs. For the Raptors, the game was preparation for its battle with the Austin Huns on April 15th.
Speaking with Rugby Today after the match, BYU head coach David Smyth said, “I was very happy with our effort. We stuck to our task and the boys worked hard... We made more mistakes than they did, particularly in the first half. We played too much rugby in our half and we made a couple of critical errors at critical times and they punished us for it. That put us under pressure and after that we were chasing the game a little bit.”
In wet and cold conditions in Provo, Utah, the clubs combined for 13 tries in a highly competitive match. BYU set the tone early recovering the kickoff inside Glendale’s 22 and a minute later, Jared Whippy’s chip kick to the endzone found a leaping Kevin Schofield for the game’s first try. Calvin Whiting’s conversion was good for the 7-0 lead.
Glendale responded in kind as the Raptors marched down the field. A five-meter scrum was pushed back and a quick pick and go saw Zach Fenoglio in for the try. Fullback Maximo De Achaval tied it up with the conversion at seven all.
The Raptors took advantage of their dominant scrum again to grab the lead as Peter Dahl scored off an eightman pick from less than five meters out. De Achaval’s kick was wide, but Glendale led 12-7.
After strategic kicking back and forth, a kick to touch by BYU set the Cougars up with lineout about seven meters from the try line. A well-executed lineout to maul was marched forward and Alex Vorster dotted the ball down for the try to tie it up at 12 apiece.
Glendale came right back with a maul of their own. Starting around the 22, the Raptors recycled a couple of times ending with Fenoglio scoring his second try. Glendale capitalized on a Cougar knock minutes later as it stretched the field spinning the ball wide for Dustin Croy to score in the corner. De Achaval made the conversion from the sideline for the 24-12 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, the ball went into touch off Glendale giving BYU the lineout. The Raptors stole the lineout but were pinned inside their five-meter line. Shaun Davies attempted to clear with a box kick from the ruck, but it was charged down. BYU's Tua Laei dove on the ball in the tryzone for the score. Whiting connected on the conversion to cut the lead to five points at 24-19.
Glendale added to the lead five minutes later when flyhalf Will Magie sent a cross kick to the wing where Croy caught the ball then fought off two defenders for the try in the corner. BYU was able to tack on a penalty before the half, but Glendale led 29-19.
Coming out the half, the Raptors were first on the scoresheet as John Ryberg took a great offload from Chad London for the try. About ten minutes later, BYU found itself deep in Glendale territory and Raptor flanker John Quill was binned for a ruck infraction. Glendale nearly killed off the card, but BYU’s Ara Elkington scored off a rolling maul in the 64th minute.
Back to full strength, Glendale took advantage of an overload on the weak side for a Magie try in the 71st minute. With the score at 41-27 and less than ten minutes remaining, BYU responded immediately with a try by Jonny Layne. Unfortunately, Whiting’s kick was off its mark and the Cougars trailed by nine points at 41-32.
With time winding down, BYU kept up the pressure looking to strike quickly once more. Phase play by the Cougars resulted in a quick tap penalty where Jared Whippy saw a chip kick chance to the wing. Laei ran a great line to catch the ball and dove in for the try. Whippy’s conversion was good and the referee ended the match with BYU coming up just short, 41-39.
Glendale head coach David Willaims said the win came down to possession and territory, especially in the wet and cold conditions. “BYU played good, especially in the second half. They capitalized on our mistakes, stuck it to the corners, caught and drove and that is where they got their points from.”
“We played very well when we played as a team,” Williams added. “What let us down individual mistakes and that cost us...When we played as a team, we played to our pattern and played in the right areas of the field, I thought we did very well.”
Williams gave the player of the game to his fullback Max de Achaval. “His positional play and kicking were great. His play is back was solid for us and was exactly what we needed. He kicked for points and when you win by two points, you have to say well done.”
For BYU, Smyth praised the Elkington brothers, Ara and Win, for their good games. “They stepped up in the physicality department. They really went after the bigger boys and I think our team fed off of that and got some confidence. Both Elkington boys were our players of the game.”
Both clubs have big tests on the horizon with the Austin Huns for Glendale and the Central Washington and the D1A playoffs for BYU. The main takeaway Smyth got from this match was “the desire the boys have to do well. They showed up today against a fairly big side, a men’s team. It took a little while to figure some things out. The good thing for me was they were able to change some things on the fly and showed some of their rugby IQ. Moving forward, its just another test that I thought we fronted up and did a good job doing some important things to make a better team.”
As for the Huns on April 15th, Williams will have his squad ready for an improved Huns club. “Both teams have their Eagles back. They got Hanco [Germishuys] and Pete Malcolm and they will definitely be a lot stronger and so will we. Obviously, going down to their place, they will have a home town advantage. They have got a lot better since we played them. We will be looking to make a few things right and then cracking to get enough points for the win.”