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Saint Mary's Squeaks Past CWU By A Point

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Saint Mary's Squeaks Past CWU By A Point

Photo Saint Mary's Rugby.

In a game that lived up to the hype #7 Saint Mary’s defeated #8 Central Washington by a single point, 27-26.

Playing in Ellensburg, Wash., Saint Mary’s spent the vast majority of the first 25 minutes inside the CWU 22. They came close to getting a try, getting held up at one point, but CWU’s defense was tenacious. 

Finally, 25 minutes in the Gaels had a distinct overlap on the left side but couldn’t execute. CWU was penalized, however, and Saint Mary’s took the three points—Mario Storti putting the kick over.

CWU was later penalized for a late hit on a kick puts Saint Mary’s inside CWU 22. The Gaels ran a phase in the middle and then a long, loopy pass wide put Losefa Toiaivao in at the corner.

At 32 minutes Saint Mary’s looked to add to their lead, launching off a quick tap after the Gaels’ scrum forced a penalty at midfield. They worked it down the tramlines between a trio of players. A high ball was popped toward the tryline and as two players fell over, the ball rolled around, center Erich Storti ultimately dove on it for a Saint Mary’s try and a 13-0 lead.

After that, Central Washington got some ball they could work with. They got into the Saint Mary’s half but could not score and halftime came with the tally still 13-0.

But right off the start of the second half CWU got a penalty and ran a lineout play, throwing short and low to Drew Farrington in the halfback position. He took it right through to touch down. Jac Tregonning’s conversion was good and now it was 13-7.

Saint Mary’s responded the way they do, playing fast in the open field. Off a fairly innocuous movement inside their own have the Gaels were able to break trough and Dom Besag was in support to take it in under the posts on a long-range movement. Mario Stori converted. 

Up 20-7 Saint Mary’s seemed poised to blow the game apart, but Central Washington replied with a well-run maul off a lineout and Campbell Robb’s try, with Tregonning’s conversion, put the Wildcats with a converted try at 20-14.

Then CWU took the lead. A long kick from Tregoning rolled dead but it was touched by a Saint Mary’s hand before it cross the tryline, and as a result Central Washington got a five-meter scrum.

They pushed closer and then Tregonning set himself up to slide through a gap. His try, plus his own conversion, put CWU ahead 21-20.

But Saint Mary’s was able to reply. A CWU kick went out on the full, giving Saint Mary’s a lineout inside the Wilcats’ half. 

Two breaks for Saint Mary’s got them close to the line and a nice inside ball to Kaipono Kayoshi put him under the posts. Storti converted for a 27-21 lead.

As the final 10 minutes approached, Saint Mary’s tried to run out of their own 22 but were intercepted. The Gaels responded quickly, however, ensuring CWU couldn’t just run it in untouched. Central did eventually score, but they did it in the corner—Isaiah Simera-Saldana diving in. The quick reaction by Saint Mary’s to the interception ensured the conversion attempt was a difficult one, and the kick drifted wide.

There was still time for both teams but neither was able to break through.

This was a wild game and gave no true indication as to who is the best D1A team in the West. Certainly it could have gone either way.

"Fine margins in big moments against a good team,” said Central Washington Head Coach Todd Thornley. “St Mary's nailed more than us today and deserve the win especially since we were dominated at the collision at times today. We hung tough in the first half with two yellow cards and were able to find a way to put some points on the board in the second half so I am proud of the effort, but we will have to evolve and execute better heading into next week."  

Next week Saint Mary's is at Cal Poly while CWU hosts BYU.