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With the beautiful backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in Provo, Utah, No. 1 ranked Brigham Young University took the second game of the season series over #3 St. Mary’s College of California, 62-15. After the nail-biter three weeks ago, the Cougars were in control for most of the game and scored eight tries in route to victory. Coming off a grueling match against Utah on Thursday night and a rash of injuries, the Gaels tried to keep up, but couldn’t sustain against the best team in the nation.
Speaking to Rugby Today after the match, BYU head coach David Smyth said, “I was very pleased with our effort today, it was probably our best performance of the year. I felt we stayed at it and on the job for the entire game. We were missing some of our regular starters, but the boys that got the opportunity to step in did a great job, particularly Logan Nye in the front row.”
After a promising start from the opening kickoff, St. Mary’s was on defense for a most of the first half. BYU’s first two opportunities for tries were called back because of forward passes, but the third chance ended with a Kevin Schofield try. Off a counterattack from a clearing kick, the ball was swung out to Schofield on the wing who raced 60 meters to the tryzone. Calvin Whiting converted the kick to take a 7-0 lead in the 7th minute.
BYU continued to put pressure on the Gaels’ back three with strategic kicking, but it was encouraging to see eightman Vili Helu back on the field after missing games with an injury. St. Mary’s got its first opportunity at points following a yellow card for a high tackle by Jared Whippy. Dylan Audsley lined up the penalty from 45 meters out and nailed it to make the score 7-3.
Only three minutes later, despite good defense by the Gaels, eightman Joe Pikula scored a short-handed try off a quick tap after St. Mary’s was called for a penalty in a five-meter scrum. BYU’s attack was bolstered by its good passing, support, and out hustling St. Mary’s to the ball.
Following two penalty kicks from Whiting at the 31st and 36th minutes, Schofield added his second try to the tally after St. Mary’s’ Aaron Matthews floated a pass at the 22 and the intrepid wing intercepted the ball for the score. Schofield was not done as he completed the hat trick at the close of the half when Whippy sent a chip kick to the wing from his own 22 where Schofield grabbed it at the 50 evading three defenders for the try. At the half, BYU led 32-3.
Coming out of the intermission, BYU dominated possession and controlled the game. A yellow piece of luck led to St. Mary’s first try as BYU’s Jonny Layne was binned for hands in the ruck. After pounding the ball inside with the forwards, the ball was spun outside to Charlie Loudon, who dived in for the St. Mary’s try, 32-8.
BYU picked up the scoring again and after another PK by Whiting, Matt Jensen joined the try parade following counterattack by Ryan Blaser and four phases of offense. In the 63rd minute, lock Jackson Kaka broke the line and offloaded to Joe Nicholls for another try. Whiting’s fourth PK at the 67th minute brought the score to 50-8.
A counterattack in the 71st minute set up St. Mary’s’ final try as freshman reserve Vince Cuhna-Vaz weaved his way through the defense, offloaded to Audsley and was tackled. After a penalty by BYU, the ball was moved to within five meters of the line and Matthews made the last move for the try. Audsley’s kick made it 50-15.
BYU put the exclamation point on the victory in the last ten minutes with its concluding two tries. At the 75th minute, a lineout from the 50 turned into a 15-phase try with Tua Laei being the last man in the sequence. Finally, on the last play of the game, St. Mary’s attempted to get the ball out wide, but BYU deflected the pass into the hands of Whiting who adeptly offloaded to a sprinting Josh Anderson in support for the lengthy try. Reserve Kingston Matua kicked the conversion for the 62-15 win.
“Our forwards gave us a great platform, which were able to work off,” Smyth added. “We used the ball effectively and got some good results out wide. Kevin Schofield had another cracker of a game, he is really maturing into a good player. I thought Alex Forster was a real force to be reckoned with up front, he got across the gain line all day and put in an incredible amount of work.”
Commenting on the loss, St. Mary’s head coach Tim O’Brien stated, “We were just thoroughly beaten, man for man, coach for coach, in most every aspect of rugby. We have a long way to go. BYU is a very talented team... They exposed some structural flaws in our game, some communication issues that we need to sort out amongst ourselves. When you play against a great team and they uncover a few of those weaknesses, they just go for the jugular.”
Next for BYU will be Army this coming Saturday in Provo. For St. Mary’s, the club is on tour to New Zealand the week of March 19th and then will play Santa Clara on April 2nd.