WILDCATS SWEEP LOPES ON FAMILY WEEKEND FRIDAY
Arizona Second XV 45
GCU Second XV 12
Arizona Third XV 36
GCU Third XV 22
Lucas Bartzis was a force for the Wildcats, scoring a try and setting up others to help the Wildcats sweep the Lopes.
October 15- Arizona continued their preseason on Friday, welcoming GCU to Tucson for two preseason matches that would feature their Second and Third XV sides. While neither side had first side players in action, it was a good opportunity for both sides to see players in action this Fall.
Under the lights and in front of a healthy crowd for Arizona Family Weekend, the Wildcats jumped out to a lead they would not relinquish but the Lopes made life hard for the Wildcats in spurts and made them work. Playing a territorial game early, short tries by Billy Esposito and Doug Neary got the Wildcats on the board before the Lopes worked their way down the field and made it 14-0. Steven Benson touched down for a short try of his own as the Wildcat Forwards continued to show well in the first half and made it 21-5 at halftime. Despite the lead, the coaching staff wasn't happy with the lack of crispness in the performance. "I was disappointed in our game management, particularly deep in our half and I think the guys learned a lot in that first half" said Head Coach Sean Duffy.
In the second half, it was the the leg of Adam Wilson that pushed the lead, hitting a penalty to make it 24-5 before a wonderful Lucas Bartzis linebreak and try made it 31-5 early in the second half. From here, the Wildcats' depth excelled, with reserve Flanker Alex Rayton taking advantage of good pressure from replacement Scrumhalf Tanner Davison at the scrum to go on a long gallop along with Esposito and Riley Kerr before Jack Bradfield broke through and scored his first of the night in the right corner. The beautiful kick from the right touch line made it 38-5 and allowed the team to experiment in the final period, with Ricky Lindsay finishing the scoring after one GCU score to make it 45-12 and give Arizona Second XV an undefeated preseason record to close out the Fall.
In match two, Arizona Third XV set out to outdo their teammates, and the backline got that started with a try in the corner from Jayme Thomas before Tristan Wallace touched down to give the hosts a 10-0 lead. The Lopes would respond, though, scoring off of turnover ball and then working their way down the field to tie it at 10. Thomas responded for the Wildcats with a try before a lovely line by Ryan Thompson led to the former Old Pueblo U19 standout's first career try and a 24-10 lead to give Arizona some breathing room. Continuing the back and forth theme, GCU would score once more before the Arizona scrum took control and both Brody Wainwright and Kristian Sanchez touched down to make it 36-22 and keep Arizona Third XV undefeated. "Thrilled to see them bounce back from some adversity and mistakes and we learn a lot about them in games like this where they get a gut check and have to adjust" said Duffy.
While neither GCU nor Arizona played their first sides, the matches were not without consequence, as the Wildcats are on the brink of their fourth straight undefeated preseason since 2014. Arizona Third XV has a bye this week before closing out their preseason at UC-San Diego on Friday October 27th.
Second XV Scoring
Tries: 6- Esposito, Neary, Benson, Bartzis, Bradfield, Lindsay
Conv: Wilson- 5/5, Bradfield- 1/1
Pen: Wilson- 1/2
Third XV Scoring
Tries: 6- Thomas (2), Wallace, Thompson, Wainwright, Sanchez
Conv: Taylor- 2/5, Van Der Heiden- 1/1