GRR on X  GRR on Facebook GRR in Instagram GRR Vimeo Library GRR on YouTube RuggaMatrix America Podcasts Support GRR on Patreon

Gaels Race Past BYU in Wild D1A Semi

irish rugby tours

Gaels Race Past BYU in Wild D1A Semi

Saint Mary's vs BYU in Saturday's D1A semifinal. David Barpal photo.

Saint Mary's pulled away from the hard-charging BYU Cougars to win their D1A semifinal and book a place in the championship game May 4 in Houston.

Both teams looked to play fast and attack and the result was a 48-31 scoreline, almost double the total points scored in the other semifinal.

The Gaels ran out to a 17-0 lead only to see Cole Semu get seven back with an interception and a Taysan Hammer conversion.

The first half for Saint Mary's was one where they had chances to build on their lead but little errors—dropped balls, passes off-target—kind of hurt them. The Gaels knew they would make mistakes, but making mistakes against BYU is not like making mistakes against other teams.

"BYU is one of the best in the country in forcing you to make errors but also in making you pay for them," said Saint Mary's Assistant Coach Andrew Cook. "Every mistake you make they punish. As a result we just couldn't shake them."

In the second half, Saint Mary's found more of their attacking shape, but BYU continued to test them. Gaels skipper Kaipono Kayoshi forced some crucial turnovers and No. 8 King Matu, who was subbed off about 55 minutes in, put in a massive shift during those minutes.

With playmakers Erich Storti, Junior Waqavesi, and Dom Besag finding more space to create, the Gaels ran in five tries in the second half to win 48-31. Scrumhalf Hunter Modlin did well to keep the tempo up and also scored a try with an audacious fakeout.

Iosefa Toaiavao built on his strong form at wing while Mario Storti was dynamic from fullback and helped get Saint Mary's out of trouble. 

For BYU, fullback Taysan Hammer was dangerous when he had the ball and his goalkicking was an important part of BYU's toolbox. Semu was a constant threat and up front prop Jim Tenney led a really strong forward effort.

However, Saint Mary's has an open-field attacking game that is probably the best in the game, and every time BYU scored, they had an answer.