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In an exhibition match before the regular season begins, Saint Mary’s easily handled Arizona State, 59-15. The Gaels are ranked fourth in the nation after winning the D1-A National Championship in May. Meanwhile, Arizona State was looking to improve upon its loss last week against BYU.
The Gaels showed that they were the more dominant team early when they scored a minute into the match. Even with the addition of the talented backs Adam and Alex Sandstrom, who returned from the USA Rugby National Team Recruitment Camp, the Sun Devils were unable to weather the pressure.
Saint Mary’s opened up a 21-point lead in the first 15 minutes of play with tries by fullback and captain Cooper Maloney, eightman Vili Helu, and prop Henry Hall. Center Dylan Audsley converted each kick to extend the lead. ASU flanker Keenan Mayfield broke the shutout with a penalty kick in the last minutes of the half.
When the whistle blew to start the second half, the Gaels were once again on the offensive, scoring 28 points in the period. The Sun Devils fought valiantly, but were overmatched by the experience and skill of their opponent. Fullback Adam Sandstrom and outside center Ryan Spiwak scored tries in the defeat.
Arizona State used this game as a learning experience for a young club, which includes nine freshmen.
“What we wanted to do is create some objectives for the game and see whether we improved over the BYU performance," said ASU coach Gary Lane. "We improved from BYU, but we didn’t do enough to win the game. There were certain objectives we wanted out of the game and some objectives were met. It was a loss, but it showed we are getting better. We held the ball better, we ran a lot better, our lineouts were better.”
“In games like this, you identify your weaknesses and work on them. In that respect, that’s exactly what we wanted to get out the weekend. It was a loss, but we look to the positives.”
The Gaels will face the Olympic Club next week before their first D1-A match Jan. 31 against University of California, Santa Barbara. Arizona State’s next opponent is San Diego State that same weekend.