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BYU, Utah Utes rugby: Cougars overcome first-half miscues, win 38-22

Published: Saturday, April 7 2012 8:25 p.m. MDT

BYU's Te'o Malosi runs with the ball during the Wasatch Cup rugby match at BYU in Provo on Saturday, April 7, 2012.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

PROVO — BYU overcame a sluggish first half to defeat rival Utah 38-22 in a game that featured some chippy play not only on the field, but on the sidelines. With the victory, BYU retains the Wasatch Cup along with its No. 1 national ranking.

"It feels great," said star player Paul Lasike following the match. "We knew Utah was going to give us a great match, and they did, and we were fortunate to come out with a win. I love being part of this team and part of this school. … Everything feels great right now."

BYU got off to an early lead, converting two penalty kicks before Lasike took the ball into the in-goal area — scoring the first try of the match. The extra point was converted, giving the Cougars an early 13-0 lead with 20:50 left in the first half.

The Utes came storming back, however, converting on three straight tries while missing on all three extra points to take the lead at 15-13 with just five minutes until the half. BYU gained some momentum heading into the locker room, scoring on a penalty kick to regain the lead at 16-15 as the half came to a close.

"We made a couple of mistakes in the first half that they capitalized on," said BYU coach David Smyth. "The whole halftime talk was to settle down, to be patient and go through the pattern of play. … We felt that if we could just keep possession that we'd be good, so that was the message at the half."

The Cougars responded well to Smyth's directive — scoring on an early try and another penalty kick within the first 10 minutes to go up 24-15.

Malosi Te'o opened up the scoring by intercepting an attempted Utah pitch and taking it clear back the other way for the try.

Following Shaun Davies' successful penalty kick, things erupted a bit on the sidelines with a Utah coach knocking the microphone out of the PA announcer's hand. Police were called to escort the coach off the field and after much discussion with all parties involved, he was allowed to return.

Utah cut the score to 24-22 after a successful try and extra point before BYU took complete control — scoring on two straight tries by Ryan Roundy and Fa'aitua Laei eventually taking the match 38-22.

"This is always a big game for us — it's our biggest game of the year," said Lasike. "I'm just so grateful for all of our fans that came out and supported us. Utah is a great team and they gave us a great challenge. I think we were a bit nervous with it being such a big game, but we settled down and it just feels awesome to win a hard-fought game like this against a team like Utah."

With the win, BYU moves to 13-0 on the year and will next take on Colorado on April 21 which will wrap up regular season play. Utah drops to 7-4 and will travel to Colorado next weekend to play back-to-back matches against Colorado and Air Force.

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

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