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Delving Into Saint Mary's vs BYU

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Delving Into Saint Mary's vs BYU

Saint Mary's vs BYU from February 12, 2022. David Barpal photo.

The nuts and bolts of the Saint Mary's win over BYU are pretty straightforward.

Tayson Hammer scored early for the Cougars, and converted before the Gaels replied with two tries and a 12-7 lead. With Saint Mary's No. 8 Kaipono Kayoshi in the sin bin BYU scrumhalf sniped over from short range and Hammer's conversion gave them a 14-12 lead.

Back came the Saint Mary's quick-strike attack, with two tries right before halftime, one converted, to make it 24-14. BYU scored right after the break and at 24-21 it was anyone's game. A try from the Gaels and then another one seemed to put it out of reach; BYU scored once more and a penalty goal sealed it for the Gaels at 39-28.

Hammer scored a try and three conversions for 11 points for BYU. Parry was very good at scrumhalf and scored one, while big prop Billy Tenney, who is also agile and effective in open play, powered over for a try. Sub hooker Devin Dunn scored BYU's last try, converted by wing Tevita Ika.

For Saint Mary's, the Storti brothers lit up the scoreboard with two tries for Erich, who was playing center, and one for Mario, who was on the wing. Flyhalf Karl Keane added a try, a penalty, and three conversions for 14 points, while center Junior Waqavesi also touched down.

The Saint Mary's backline was an interesting conglomeration of players in that many were arguably playing out of position. Scrumhalf Jonathan Hackett is not really considered a scrumhalf, he's usually a wing, but has done a pretty good job taking care of the position and his understanding of the game is solid. Normally a scrumhalf, Keane played flyhalf and did a smart job, while normally a flyhalf, Waqavesi was inside center and Erich Storti, usually a fullback, was his midfield mate. With Ed King at fullback and the wings patrolled by Antoine de la Fontaine and Mario Storti, they had a backline that was quick and athletic, but also full of playmakers.

The day itself had some additional excitement. The Johnny Everett Front Row Endowment was launched in honor of longtime Saint Mary's forwards coach Johnny Everett. Many of Everett's old teammates from his long rugby career came to honor his 18 years of volunteer coaching with the Gaels, as well as many the long list of top-level hookers and props he mentored at Moraga. The unveiling of the endowment was a surprise to Everett.

"The reason we're relevant is really our tight five," said Saint Mary's Head Coach Tim O'Brien. "And that's all down to Johnny."

It was a spirited and intriguing game, and one in which a BYU team who'd be forgiven for being rust showed exceptionally well. Hammy, Parry, and Tenney, especially, have been shining lights for them this season.

For Saint Mary's, they found themselves paying for penalties. The opening BYU try came after several minutes of the Gaels on the attack. But then a knock-on turned the ball over and BYU worked their way down and scored.

The Kayoshi yellow card, for a cynical ruck penalty, saw BYU kick for touch, set up a maul, get a penalty, kick for touch, set up a maul, and then put it over.

The third try was the same story as the second. 

"We learned the consequence of certain errors," said O'Brien, who added that there were some coaching errors in there, too. "And certainly BYU punished us when we made those errors. They are a very talented team but some of our guys rose up. We put up the best team we had available they did a commendable job."

Flanker Lleyton Dalzell and lock Cathal Coakley not only played well in this game, but fronted up in Friday's win over Santa Clara, as well. That game saw Miles McCormick back in the lineup at No. 8 and scoring; it saw Coakley get a try and 12 different Gaels score.

O'Brien said that despite the big scoreline, 71-18, it was "no layup going to Santa Clara. They're a good team with some very talented kids."

As for BYU? They get to host Saint Mary's in March in a game that could be very interesting. It's a pack spring for the Cougars, with Central Washington next weekend, then Cal, then Utah, and finishing March off with Arizona and Cal Poly.