Rugby in the Beehive State had a busy weekend. Here’s updates from BYU, Utah, the Utah Warriors and USA Eagles 7s:
BYU sweeps through Washington
By Kimball Kjar
BYU 48, WASHINGTON 5: At Seattle, the BYU Cougars battled from behind to beat the Huskies of Washington.
The Huskies took an early 5-0 lead in the 5th minute after a BYU missed tackle led to a UW 50 meter scamper for the game’s opening try.
Following the UW try BYU settled the nerves and rattled off an unanswered series of 8 tries.
The BYU scoring started with a sequence of phases of over 50 meters capped off by prop David Collins rumbling 10 meters for the score in the 15th minute.
Freshmen Tua Laei and Dallin Hunt each got in on the scoring act as they each dotted down in the 17th and 30th minute respectively. With one missed conversion over the three tries, BYU led 19-5 at the half.
The Cougars ramped up the scoring in the 2nd half with some more physicality at the break down and better passing.
Sophomore flanker Kyle Sumpsion scored in the 42nd minute after freshman and fellow flanker Hayden Johnson took a quick tap penalty to set up the Sumpsion score.
Four other Cougars would score in spurts to round out the affair and BYU would win going away 48-5.
“This was a good game,” BYU head coach David Smyth, “Our guys were forced to battle early and they responded well.”
BYU 76, CENTRAL WASHINGTON 7: At Seattle, BYU led by 3 tries from 2011 All American junior center Seki Kofe.
In total the Cougars scored 12 tries, 7 of them coming in the first half. A stunted started to the 2ndstanza didn’t see BYU regain their scoring edge until the 54th minute via a bullying run from senior flanker Hynie Leaatoa.
Citing his team’s 2nd half start Smyth said his team lost their edge.
“I thought the boys played well in the first half.” Smyth said, “They worked hard. We were able to establish a good go forward platform and the guys executed the moves well. But the second half was somewhat different. We lost our focus and got a little loose. But we were able to right the ship and it turned out to be a good first game of the season.”
One of the highlights for the Cougars according to Smyth was Kofe.
Kofe, a native of the Northwest hailing from Oregon, was a spark for the BYU attack and defense noted Cougar assistant coach Kimball Kjar.
“He’s a dynamic player,” Kjar said of Kofe, “And he set up a lot of things for us on both sides of the ball. It was nice to see our guys key off of him a lot today.”
Kofe didn’t score his first try until the 31st minute, but it came off of a CWU turnover 10 meters from their goal line that he set up in tandem with fellow center Paul Lasike.
After a two-man tackle by the duo the ball was stolen by Lasike and Kofe scooped up the loose ball for the easy score.
Kofe would score again in back-to-back fashion in the 62nd and 65th minutes as BYU regained their stride in the 2nd half.
The BYU struggles in the 2nd half started in the 41st minute as the Cougars were on the attack close to the Wildcats goal line. But an errant pass saw the BYU attackers isolated and a deft CWU turnover allowed Wildcat senior Tim Stanfill to race almost 90 meters for his team’s only try.
More attacking errors close to the CWU goal line saw BYU struggle for almost 15 minutes in the 2nd half.
The precision and physicality that saw BYU run in 47 1st half points was reset with Leaatoa’s 54th minute try from a scrum and the dominant play of prop Mikey Su’a.
Su’a not only led the Cougars’ dominance at the scrum but he also tallied a duo of tries in the 12th and 70th minutes.
BYU assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti said the hard work of the forwards at the set piece and in contact gave the Cougars a number of advantages.
“We set the tone at the break down and the scrum and that led to a majority of our tries throughout the game,” Tarawhiti said, “It was a good first hit out for the guys, but we still have room to improve.”
BYU’s physical dominance in the scrum was no more exemplified than in the 26th minute with BYU captain Ryan Roundy scoring a push-over try from a 5-meter scrum.
On Saturday the Cougars also beat the Old Puget Sound Beach D1 men’s club 19-15.
UTES LOSE TWO IN CALIFORNIA
By Hugh Brown
ST. MARY’S 41, UTAH 10: At Moraga, Calif., undefeated St. Mary’s rocked Utah at home on Friday. Utah dominated possession and threatened repeatedly in the first half, but was consistently stopped by a hardened Gael defense. St. Mary’s scored three early tries off their counterattack and Utah errors to take a commanding lead. The Gael reserves also handed Utah’s seconds their first loss.
SAN FRANCISCO GOLDEN GATE 58, UTAH 19: At San Francisco, last year’s men’s club champions, won going away by the score in a friendly, or exhibition match. However, the Ute reserves posted a 27-24 win over the SFGG B side.
“I think Utah is probably better than their scores show, and when they get clicking in the backs and coordinate their forwards and backs more, they will be very tough,” said SFGG’s Paul Keeler said.
Utah now returns home for another friendly match against the Utah Warriors, a Rugby Super League team, at McCarthy Field at noon on Saturday.
Two Utah Warriors named to Eagles’ 7s team
The United States Eagles have named their twelve man squad to travel to New Zealand and then play is Las Vegas for the next two legs of the 2011-12 HSBC Sevens World Series. Maka Unufe will be on that team despite missing the previous legs in 2011. Unufe, a former wide receiver for BYU, played for the U.S. in the Pan American Games. He will be joined by fellow Utah Warrior and Eagle mainstay Mike Palefau. In Wellington on Feb. 3-4 the Eagles have drawn a pool with South Africa, England, and the Cook Islands. The U.S. leg of the series will be held in Las Vegas on Feb. 10-12.
The Utah high school rugby season will get an early kickoff on Feb. 24-25 with the Snow Canyon Invitational Warm-up tournament held at Snow Canyon High school in St. George.
DI-A teams: California overwhelmed Stanford 109-0 and beat Sacramento State 48-3; St. Mary’s followed up on their win over Utah by defeating Chico State 36-22 and the San Francisco; UCLA downed Cal Poly 39-24; UC Davis beat Oregon State 17-14 on Thursday.
DI-AA: UC Santa Barbara defeated UC Irvine 43-15; Oregon State downed Simon Fraser 12-10.