GCU RECAP: PRESEASON STAYS PERFECT IN PHOENIX
Arizona Second XV 48
GCU Second XV 22
Arizona Third XV 75
GCU Third XV 12
Koto Fujimura (L) and Doug Neary (R) played key roles in the Wildcats' victory on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Kimberly Wainwright)
October 8- Arizona traveled to Phoenix on Saturday for the first time as a combined program this Fall, taking on Grand Canyon University for two preseason matches.
Battling the heat and a staunch GCU defense early, the Wildcats got on the board thanks to a great line by Ricky Lindsay that broke the Lopes' line and made it 5-0. With the visitors opting to play a territorial game early through the foot of Flyhalf Robert Figley, the pressure paid off with the back three of Adam Wilson, Jake Rowley, and Jon Rogers all combining on a counterattack to make it 14-3. The counterattack would again strike soon after, with this time Wilson touching down to 21-10 heading in to half. A GCU try before the break would make it 21-17, though, and give the Lopes life.
In the second half, the territorial game continued to pay off with the Arizona scrum making some adjustments that helped them get the upper hand in the set piece. A Figley penalty early in the half off of a scrum penalty just inside GCU territory got the second half started well, with the following possession leading to a GCU scrum deep in their half which was stolen and then touched down by Scrumhalf Koto Fujimura to make it 29-17. Continued possession deep in GCU territory led to a Figley try before a first phase move by the Forwards led to a Billy Esposito score to break the game open. Rogers added the final icing on the cake, scoring from a wonderful first phase backs move to make it 48-22 and give the Wildcats Second XV a 2-0 record this Fall. "Very pleased with the second half, but disappointed in the mistakes in the first half. We must be more clinical in the 22 and our hope is in playing GCU again next week our guys will have a chance to improve on weak spots and work towards their perfect game" said Head Coach Sean Duffy.
Arizona Third XV, fresh off their 44-22 victory over NAU last weekend, jumped out to another strong start in game two of the day as Flyhalf Brody Wainwright touched down in the 9th minute before Center Luke Kampton ran a great line and scored to make it 12-0 Arizona. Kristian Sanchez, slotting in at Wing for the first time in his career, showed his pace and attacking prowess soon after to break the game open, scoring a long try that would give them a 19-0 lead. From here the Wildcats would open the floodgates, with Riley Kerr, Tanner Davison, and one more from Wainwright making it 41-0 at halftime and providing the staff an opportunity to build on items for Spring. In the second half, the foot was kept on the gas, with Kyle Fulton touching down twice including a 60-meter burst along with scores from Nick Taylor and a double from Anders Bergfalk in his debut to give the Wildcats a 75-12 victory and a 3-0 preseason record. "Thrilled with this group and their growth from last week, and a credit to Coaches Hause and Bunnin for their work in getting the team ready on gameday and Pat Coco for leading the overall Fifteens effort this preseason" said Duffy.
The Wildcats and Lopes will play the return matches of the series this Friday in Tucson, with a large crowd expected for the university's Family Weekend. Arizona Second XV will be going for an undefeated preseason record to close out their Fall, while the Third XV will look to continue momentum before finishing their preseason October 27th against UC-San Diego.
Second XV Scoring
Tries: 7- J. Rogers (2), Lindsay, Wilson, Fujimura, Figley, Esposito
Conv: Figley- 5/7
Pen: Figley- 1/1, J. Rogers- 0/1
Third XV Scoring
Tries: 12- Wainwright (2), Sanchez (2), Fulton (2), Bergfalk (2), Kampton, Kerr, Davison, Taylor,
Conv: Sanchez- 3/6, Taylor- 2/6