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It was a battle of youth versus experience between #20 Arizona and #5 Lindenwood on Saturday at Texas Christian University in Forth Worth, Texas. Experience won as the Lions mauled the Wildcats in an 88-5 affair. Lindenwood scored a total of 14 tries with senior eightman Sebastian Kalm earning the Man of the Match leading the forward pack with three tries.
With Lindenwood head coach JD Stephenson away with the USA Men’s Junior All-American squad, assistant coach Jimmy Harrison took the reins. “We played a pretty good smart game today,” Harrison said. “We have been harping on running our systems and emphasizing team play with good support lines.”
“We thought that Arizona did a really phenomenal job in the lineouts and restarts. They won almost all of their restarts they had. They were very disciplined in the breakdown as well, hardly any penalties and there were a few balls they should have had.”
The Lions held a 47-5 halftime lead with seven tries in the period. Corey Harmann, Tadhg Leader, Kalm, Tama Patogofie-Buyten, Wes Parker, Maani Kapa, and Travis Heer each scored for Lindenwood. Leader added six conversions in the first half and one more in the second half for a total of 19 points on the day.
Arizona’s lone try of game came from wing Dante Weeks, who broke a few tackles for the 15-meter try. Set up by an excellent lineout play, the Wildcats attacked the weak side, which opened a lane for Weeks to exploit.
The second half was all Lindenwood as it exploded for another seven tries to finish the test at 88-5. Kalm and Cristian Rodriguez each had two tries and Jon Holden, Heer, and Giovanni Falco pitched in three more scores. Linc Magee and Lunaile Tshuma each notched conversions in the half.
Arizona head coach Sean Duffy said that his team needs to learn from this type of game and grow as a squad to overcome challenges further down the road. “This is a game where we have to evolve as a group,” Duffy remarked. “We got ourselves into a battle and we have different moves we got to use. We just need to evolve as a group over time. This was a game that will help us do that. It’s a learning process and it’s tough to take lumps. We are getting ready for conference play and this helped us do that.”
The major difference between the two clubs was Lindenwood’s experience versus Arizona’s youth, but Coach Duffy wouldn’t let that be the only reason his team lost. “[Lindenwood is] a very experienced team, but that’s not why we lost. They were very good in attack, they had a lot of good structure there. They strung together good phase ball, but we had our chances and weren’t able to execute. All credit to Lindenwood.”
Coach Williams did echo the youth on the opposite side of the field, but he saw a tremendous amount of potential for Arizona. “One of the big differences was the age. Arizona is a young team with a very bright future. They will be a real contender once they get those age players up. We were really impressed with the athletes they had on the field.”