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Saint Mary's Transition Game Sees Them Past Arizona

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Saint Mary's Transition Game Sees Them Past Arizona

Saint Mary's is now 6-1.

In a meeting of two highly-ranked D1A teams Saint Mary's defeated Arizona 48-15 in Moraga.

It was, thankfully, finally good weather in Northern California and set the scene for an intense match, and it was. Competitive, hard-hitting, and at times chippy, the game was a good reminder for both teams how tough it gets as the season progresses.

The game began with the Gaels scoring within the first minute. Center Erich Storti saw space on the weak side of a ruck and set up a break through and a try in the corner for his brother Mario.

Arizona settled it down after that, challenging nicely at the breakdown to take possession and asking questions of the Gaels defense.

But turnover ball kills and Saint Mary's were very effective with it. A nice piece of interplay with Storti and Dom Besag set up Zach Pua in the corner. Arizona answered with a nicely-executed set play off the scrum, with fullback Matteo Berenger setting up Jacob Broselle to gallop in to make it 10-5. So it was still very close through the first 20 minutes or so. A breakthrough from Besag ended with an offload off the floor to Storti the third try of the day for Saint Mary's.

A turnover while the Wildcats were trying to run out of their 22 led to wing Iosefa Toaiavao scoring the corner. But once again Arizona responded, punishing a couple of Gaels penalties to get closer before center Mattox King took a flat pass from George O'Brien and dove over.

That made it 22-10 with about eight minutes left in the first half. Much of the remaining first half was played inside the Saint Mary's 22, but the Gaels held Arizona out. And, as often happens, it was the team on defense that broke out to score. Mario Storti took a pass well inside his 22 and burst down the field for about 50 meters before passing back inside to Erich Storti. He flipped a backhanded pass to Besag and after a quick recycle the ball was sent out quickly to the wing where lock Cathal Coakley dove over.

That was a bit of a heartbreaker for Arizona as it ended the half at 27-10.

Besag scored two in the second half and while Arizona did answer with a try from reserve scrumhalf Jacob Hall, they couldn't quite climb back. 

As we said, it was a chippy game. There were a few words exchanged and some confrontations, but referee Tim Lew did well to contain the agro and keep it about rugby.

"The game was played with a lot of intensity and aggression," said Saint Mary's Head Coach Tim O'Brien. "The guys were up for it; we don't have a lot of home games this year and we know Arizona is a big, strong squad with some really impressive players. Overall it was really fun and I think Tim Lew did a really good job."

Saint Mary's was very dangerous in the transition game and despite it still being early days they looked very much on the same page on counter-attacks. 

"It was great to play Arizona," added O'Brien. "We got a lot out of it and I expect they did too."

Full Game Here: