BY HUGH BROWN
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utes were scheduled to open their DI-A Western Conference schedule this past Saturday at home against Colorado State. The Utah Warriors were scheduled to open their Super League season against the Denver Barbarians in Salt Lake City, but when that match was cancelled, coach Blake Burdette opted to run his reserves against CSU, even though the game still counted in conference play, and throw his first XV at the Barbos to give them further experience against top grade competition.
The decision paid off as the Ute reserves had little trouble with the Rams, winning 49-19 and the first side was put to the test in a closely fought 39-34 loss to Denver.
In the Colorado State match, the same penalties that hurt the Utes against California-Berkeley plagued them again as the Rams scored 12 points off penalty kicks, but Utah’s forwards were able to dominate the play.
Utah opened the scoring in impressive style when they won a scrum at their own 5 meter line and Alex Muehle picked up the ball from his eighth man position and carried it 40 meters where it was spun out to the backs resulting in a try by Winston Harris. Shon Curtis then barreled in for a try to up the lead to 10-0 before CSU closed the gap to 10-6 on a pair of penalty goals.
Curtis scored another and the conversion made it 17-6 before the Rams hit another penalty kick. Undaunted, Curtis made it a hat trick with his third try to up the lead to 22-9.
Harris scored his second try and then Austin Taylor picked off a pass to score and make it 32-9 Utah. CSU converted another penalty kick, but tries by Greg Klc and Casey Raymond made it 42-12. CSU finally scored its first try of the match and the conversion. The Utes’ Kaleb Hogan closed the scoring with a try and the successful.
The first XV then took on the Denver Barbarians of the Super League and the Barbos scored first to lead 5-0. Don Pati corrected this as he came off the edge of a ruck for a try to tie the match.
Denver then scored 17 straight points to lead 22-5 and seemingly put the game away. Utah continued to attack, however, and when Denver made a mistake, Danny Christensen connected on a penalty goal, and then Utah won its own scrum and spun the ball out to backs with Lopeti Lauti scoring the try. Christensen’s conversion made it 22-15 at the half, but the Utes were back in the game.
At the start of the second period, Mike Juzczak charged down the ball and on the recycle Lopeti off loaded to Christensen for the try. Denver’s lead was cut to 22-20.
The Barbarians did not panic and mounted an offense of their own resulting in a pair of tries and conversions for a 36-20 lead. Undaunted, Pati scored a try off a quick tap following a Denver penalty and Christensen’s kick was good to once again cut the lead to 36-27.
The Barbos made a penalty kick before Utah scored the final try of the match, with the conversion making the final score 39-34 Denver.
Utah now has a bye week before they travel to Tuscon for a conference match against Arizona.
HIGH SCHOOL RUGBY
The Utah high school and U19 rugby season is in full swing this coming weekend with matches throughout the state. In all, there will be 11 boys’ matches, three girls’, four 9th/10th grade games, and five 7th/8th grade contests.
This is a tribute to the youth rugby program in the state and is partially responsible for Utah being the hot bed of rugby that it has been over the last few decades.
Some of the boys’ Division I matches include Skyline and DC at Davis High, Herriman and Lowland at the Dimple Dell Rec Center, and Snow Canyon and United at Steeler Field.
D-1A – St. Mary’s staked its claim to the best team in the Pacific Conference with a 69-3 pounding of Cal Poly. In a battle of two Western Conference contenders, BYU dominated Air Force 76-20, Arizona edged Colorado 40-36, Arizona State downed Wyoming 42-19, Central Washington defeated UC Davis 39-5, Army beat up Rutgers 45-8, Arkansas State romped over Oklahoma 96-7, Life blasted Notre Dame 80-7.
Other – California slammed UCLA 79-3, San Diego State blanked UC Irvine 28-0, Claremont beat Southern California 50-20, Oregon State downed Eastern Washington 17-12, Santa Clara downed Stanford 31-22, Maryland beat Clemson 26-17.