SALT LAKE CITY — Herriman’s second state rugby title wasn’t won in dramatic fashion, but it was just as sweet for the Mustangs.
“I’ll take this one. I think I’ll live longer,” Herriman rugby coach Jeff Wilson said after the Mustangs defeated Snow Canyon 41-19 at Ute Soccer Field on Saturday. “This is fine with me. Without all the drama at the end — I’m OK with that.”
The match was expected to be a close one as it pitted 2011 Division I boys champion Snow Canyon against the 2012 champ. The Mustangs surprised many last year by finishing their rookie season undefeated, dramatically defeating Trybe Rugby on penalty kicks. This year, Herriman was cruising through the season undefeated until it suffered a setback at Snow Canyon in April.
“We went down a little complacent,” Wilson said about his team's earlier 24-20 loss. “Maybe we just needed to be woken up. It’s probably the best thing that could have happened to us.”
The Mustangs were jolted again in the title game Saturday as the Warriors drew first blood. In the 11th minute Shan Esplin took a nice pass from Brandon McFarland down the left sideline to give Snow Canyon a 7-0 lead.
From there, Herriman (5-1) responded with three tries to take a 15-7 halftime advantage. After the restart the Mustangs made several deep runs into the heart of the Warriors’ defense. Canyon Hansen used some quick moves to score a try just one minute into the second half, and the rout was on.
All of Herriman’s six tries were scored by different players: Sialao Mobley, Conner Dickerson, Moliki Mulitalo, Billy Ward, Conner Hoff and Hansen.
“That’s what we love about our guys — we have a lot of balance,” Wilson said. “We’ve got a bunch a great guys out there, and we have a bunch of great guys on the bench that we brought on.”
Snow Canyon (5-1) never gave up, scoring two late tries by Connor Parry and Taylor Johanson, who made one the most impressive try-scoring runs of the day.
The Division I title game was one of five games put on by Utah Youth Rugby on Saturday. The game is the fastest-growing sport in the state, UYR President Michael Cressler said Saturday. When UYR started in 2009, it governed 14 teams. Just a few years later, 61 teams competed to be the the best in the state in 2013, with many others planning to join next season.
GIRLS DIVISION: Lowland Rugby Club (8-0) won its third-straight title by defeating previously undefeated Snow Canyon 21-7 Saturday.
Teesha Richards scored two tries to clinch what was a very close match.
“It was really dicey,” coach Olive Ahotaeiloa said. “Luckily she was there.”
Kayla Seaich scored for the Warriors (6-1) while Apa’au Mailau reached the end zone for Lowland’s first score.
BOYS DIVISION II: Six different players scored for Hunter as the Wolverines (7-0) rolled past Layton-based Kau Toa Rugby Club (6-2), 47-12. Ian Togiai scored two tries to lead Hunter. Curtis Pati, Hunter Tiatia, Peter Makalio, Howard Tiatia and Hyrum Purcell also scored for the champions.
Also on Saturday, Snow Canyon won the 10th-grade title and Genesis Rugby Club took home the 8th-grade hardware.