WILDCATS BESTED in last minute

#19 central Washington 32

#13 Arizona 28

Robert Figley's growth at Flyhalf was on display in the clash with Central Washington.  (Photo credits: Alex Ho)

Feb 4- Arizona and Central Washington have had a budding rivalry in Sevens, with some classic games dating back to the early days of the Collegiate Rugby Championships in 2011. Ten years later, the two schools of Wildcats have entered in to a back-and-forth again, this time in Fifteens as the teams played a nail-biter on Saturday at Sitton Field. After taking last year's match in the first round of National Championships, Central Washington was out to even things up and started well, jumping to an early 5-0 lead. Moving quickly down the field in response, Fullback Jon Rogers and Joe Sargeant connected on an early candidate for try of the year, with Rogers putting a grubber through the line that the Wing from London dotted down to even the score at 5. 

Setting the tone of the day in the back-and-forth match, Central Washington worked in to the corner and pushed over a try to make it 12-5, with a Robert Figley penalty just before half making it 12-8 at halftime. "A few adjustments at half, and we knew this could come down to the last few minutes" said Director of Rugby Sean Duffy. Coming out with more discipline and patience, the Wildcats put together phase ball, as players like Center Lucas Bartzis, Lock James Rivers, and Flanker Bronson Teles helped the Wildcats carry more possession, but a turnover and a strong Central Washington possession made it 17-8 in favor of the visitors. More patient attack gave the Wildcats a lineout in the attacking 22, and they did not miss, with a well-worked play resulting in a try from Ray Weiner, the first in the Arizona career for the Freshman Prop to make it 17-15. Both sides made the other work, and this time Central caught a break and turned over Arizona in their half, scoring an important try to make it 24-15 and put the Wildcats in their deepest hole of the season. 

In the last 20 minutes, Arizona showed their resolve, with a 68th minute penalty from Flyhalf Robert Figley cutting the lead to six. A Central Washington penalty on a Wildcats' mistake extended the lead back to nine before Center Lou MacLaughlin put Sargeant away on the biggest linebreak of the day. From there, Figley's cutout pass to Wing Kyle Fulton put the Wildcats in the try zone and cut the lead back to two in the 72nd minute. A penalty by Central Washington and a two point deficit with three minutes left in the game brought Figley to the tee, and the Junior from Virginia showed why he was a Third Team All American last season, nailing the penalty from 45 meters out to give the Wildcats their first lead at 28-27 with just two minutes left in the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Arizona's attempt to win the ball was answered by Central Washington, with the visiting Wildcats earning a penalty that would send them to the corner, and eventually see them capitalize with a 79th minute score to hand Arizona their first loss of the season in a non-conference clash for the ages.

Despite the loss, the Wildcats can point to the positives of an important non-conference match, steps in the right direction, and exposure of fixable items for the coming conference season. "Look all games are important, and losing isn't fun, but both Todd Thornley their Head Coach and I agree that good teams playing good teams is much more productive for each of us, so this is the latest great match between two good teams and the start of a change in how we schedule" said Duffy "it's time for us to be great, and to do that we're not going to schedule teams that won't teach us what we're made of."

Arizona hits the road for the first time this season on Friday, turning things around quickly for the third of four non-conference match-ups this season. The Wildcats will take on #20 Grand Canyon in Phoenix before hosting #2 Cal to kick off conference play next Saturday. Arizona's final non-conference match of the season pits them against #8 BYU in March before a hopeful return to D1A playoffs.

Scoring vs CWU

Tries: Sargeant, Weiner, Fulton

Conv: Figley- 2/3
Pen: Figley- 3/4

Lineup vs Central Washington

1- Chris McBride

2- Gabe Coray-Dozier

3- Raymond Weiner

4- Billy Esposito

5- James Rivers

6- Bronson Teles (C)

7- Ben Scoular

8- Riley Kerr

9- Maxime Cathala

10- Robert Figley

11- Joe Sargeant

12- Matthew Start

13- Lucas Bartzis (VC)

14- Kyle Fulton

15- Jon Rogers

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16- King Matu

17- Max Richins

18- Daniel Hagan

19- Jack McCrossin

20- Lucas Agasse

21- Louie MacLaughlin

22- George Niethammer

23- Solomon Hutchings

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