College rugby: Cougars, Utes advance to semifinals

Published: Saturday, Oct. 10 2015 4:05 a.m. MDT

PROVO — The BYU Cougars advanced to the College Premier Division's semifinals by beating the visiting Navy Midshipmen 64-12 on South Field Saturday afternoon.

In what was a hotly contested match at the breakdown, the Cougars were led by flanker Apenisa Malani who dotted down three times.

"Navy is a big team," Malani said, "And they're a tough group of guys. So we just needed to do the same and it paid off."

Early on, the Cougars looked to pressure Navy as BYU strung phases together in the Midshipmen territory. The pressure paid off as the Cougars were awarded a penalty 28 meters straight in front of the posts.

BYU scrumhalf Shaun Davies converted the penalty kick and BYU took a 3-0 lead in the 2nd minute.

Minutes later, the Cougars scored again, this time at the hands of fullback Andrew Harrison who took a wide needle-threading pass from flyhalf Dylan Lubbe from 20 meters out for the game's first try. A Davies' conversion made it 10-0 in favor of the Cougars.

Later, a Navy turnover deep in the BYU half would offer lock Viliami Vimahi a chance to counter attack in the 11th minute. Vimahi would lumber up field and find wing Adam Kuchin who stepped in and away from the Midshipmen cover defenders for a long 60 meter run and try under the posts.

And another wide pass from Lubbe, this time to center Jared Whippy, would put the latter away for a try in the 17th minute to put BYU up 17-0.

True to form, the Midshipmen however weren't about to roll over, however.

With a long and strategic kicking game Navy created pressure in the BYU backfield. The eventual pressure would offer the Midshipmen two well-worked tries in the 24th minute by captain & No. 8 Sean Rohrs and then again in the 34th minute by scrumhalf Ricky Feller.

"I thought we worked hard today," said BYU head coach David Smyth, "But Navy showed some glaring things we need to work on this coming week."

Amongst the Navy pressure the Cougars would respond intermittently with tries from captain & No. 8 Ryan Roundy as well as Malani.

In all the Cougars would repel a surging Navy attack close the BYU tryline on numerous occasions, most notably in the second half where the Midshipmen controlled the field position and possession for the first 20 minutes of the second half.

BYU would soak up the Navy pressure and finish the final 20 minutes of the game with a scoring spree via Malani, wing Zeke Mendenhall and hooker Ishmael Tilialo.

At the full-time whistle it was 64-12 in for the Cougars.

In summarizing his team's performance, Smyth said he was pleased in total, but that he's looking forward to getting to work on fixing some things.

"Our defense held overall against a very physical and determined team," he said, "It wasn't a complete performance by any means, but that will help us stay focused and working hard. We're back to the semifinals and we're looking forward to it."

BYU now moves on to the CPD semifinals where they will take on the Arkansas State Redwolves next Saturday, May 14th at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo. The ASU Redwolves beat St. Mary's College at home in Jonesboro, AR by the score of 30-17 to punch their semifinals ticket.

Kickoff between BYU and ASU is slated for either 6 or 8pm MT with governing-body USA Rugby to determine those details Monday. The CPD semifinals will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com and tape delay broadcast on ESPNU starting at 10:30 p.m. the same evening.

UTAH 32, ARMY 26: At West Point, N.Y., The University of Utah traveled to West Point where they edged Army 32-26 in the first round of the College Premier Division playoffs.

The match was played in a series of scoring spurts as the Utes took a 15-0 lead, Army rallied to go ahead 19-15, and then Utah stormed back to go ahead 32-19 before Army scored the final try of the contest. The victory advances the Utes into the CPD semi-finals against defending champion California this Saturday in Colorado. Army is eliminated after suffering its first loss of the season.

Tonata Lauti's penalty kick put Utah up 3-0 early in the match and when the Utes scored two more tries — the forwards bulled one over off a 5-meter lineup and A.J. Tuineau set up the second with a great run before offloading to Blake Miller. It was 15-0 and appeared to be Utah's day.

Army was not impressed and came roaring back. The backs spun the ball wide for the Black Knights' first try. They made two penalty goals, and then they spun it wide once again for a try and a 16-15 halftime lead.

A penalty kick upped that lead to 19-15 with 30 minutes to play before the Utes came back to life. Maika Hafoka scored a try and Lauti converted to regain the lead 22-19. The Utes won a lineout and their backs had a line break that resulted in a 60-meter try. Nick Mostyn broke through off a ruck for a 32-19 lead with two minutes to play.

Army was awarded a penalty try as time ran out, but could not score again in injury time.

This weekend's CPD semifinals will be played at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado and Utah will be matched up against defending national champion California-Berkeley. The CPD championship match will be played on May 21 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy. Both the semis — 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 14 and the finals will be televised live on ESPN3 and via tape delay on ESPNU.

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