Gaels Come Home from Utah with a Win and a Tie

November  8, 2008, American College Rugby

#6 Saint Mary’s and #8 Utah have played a hard fought 24-24 tie in a preseason game Saturday in Salt Lake City, UT. The Gaels led 19-3 at halftime, but the Utes stormed back in the second period to salvage a draw. Scott Cowley was one of Utah’s standouts with a try, three conversions and a penalty goal for a personal haul of 14 points.

Spencer Vickery and Mike Nanagara got the Utes’ two other tries.

“The boys showed their guts by the way they fought to come back like they did,” Utah head coach Blake Burdette told ARN. “It was the kind of performance I was waiting for. Saint Mary’s is a big team and they’re going to be good.”

The game wrapped up the Utes’ fall campaign, a preseason that saw them post a credible record of 7-2-1. Saint Mary’s goes home from their opening road trip of the fall with a 1-0-1 record following Friday night’s 31-22 triumph over Utah Valley.


Utah Comeback Ties Saint Mary’s

November 8, 2008, American Rugby News– A surprising second-half comeback saw the University of Utah catch and tie Saint Mary’s in a highly-anticipated friendly played in Salt Lake City.

Saint Mary’s looked much the better team in the first half, combining a wide, expensive game with powering the scrums to score three tries to just one Scott Cowley penalty. Every St. Mary’s player who had the ball thought pass first, while the Utah players were thinking line-break. The Gaels defended effectively early and put together several movements that went sideline to sideline.

Ironically, it was a drive over from a scrum that produced the first Saint Mary’s try, with No. 8 Joseph Brophy doing the honors. Right off the restart Saint Mary’s attacked again and some slick passing got the ball in fullback Matt Hansley’s hands and he went straight to the corner. The scrum provided the platform for the Gaels’ third try, and they punched the ball several times off an attacking scrum and finally prop Pat Grass made it 19-3.

”We made some adjustments at halftime,” said Utah head coach Blake Burdette. “Our defense was really fractured so we changed our scramble defense. But the big thing was the boys really wanted it and played with some guts and heart for the first time.”

Cowley, prop Spencer Vickery and fullback Mike Na Nagara all scored tries in the comeback, while Saint Mary’s added an intercept score for the 24-24 scoreline. For  Saint Mary’s, it was the opening weekend of their season – they defeated Utah Valley University 31-22 Friday, while Utah end their fall campaign on a positive note.

”We would have liked the win, but that comeback is a good way to end,” said Burdette.