ARIZONA OFF TO 2-0 START IN PRESEASON 


aRIZONA 34
utah valley 17



 

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Jacob Hall was one of the standouts in the victory on debut for the Wildcats. (Photo credits: Josh Pearson)

Oct 10- With Rugby parents in town for the university's family weekend, a strong opponent lined up for the preseason opener, and a bit of momentum building after a Cameron Blair try, everything looked to be lining up for a great weekend. History was made on Saturday, but not on the field. With 11 minutes left in the first half, Sitton Field was impacted by a lightning delay, sending both teams, and the hundreds of fans in attendance, inside for the first weather-related stoppage in the program's recent history. "Weird way to meet a lot of parents but they were great, got to check in on their sons for that little delay there, many of whom were Freshmen. Thankful to our university, our sports medicine staff, and Utah Valley for being so understanding and we all agreed that the athlete and fan safety has to be number one priority" said Director of Rugby Sean Duffy.

After the short delay, the Wildcats and Wolverines got back to a great contest as Arizona kicked off their preseason. The game was a battle in the Forwards that saw both sides make gains, with the Utah Valley pressure forcing mistakes and Arizona committing a string of penalties to put themselves in a bind. The response for the Wildcats was led in the Forwards by Jack Bresland and Jack Brown, with the two back row mates setting the tone and the Irish Number Eight touching down three times in his debut.

As the game progressed, the young backline started to get their footing, with Jacob Hall, Seth Catchpole, and Charley Redknapp giving the Wildcats Freshmen at Scrumhalf, Flyhalf, and Inside Center and giving fans a glimpse in to the future. Fullback Matteo Berenger, a second-year standout and veteran presence, settled the backline and provided the scoreboard pressure, slotting penalties and converting tries with his strong kicking game. "It feels great to get our first preseason win and see the young guys adapt. Once we start trusting each other, we're able to build continuity and reach the try zone. We have a lot of work to do but it's exciting to see what we have" said Berenger.

 

In the 2nd XV, Arizona weathered a late Utah Valley push to win 20-15, needing a defensive stop in their own 22 to end the game. Fullback Connor McCormick was one of many standouts, with Number Eight Pacific Smiley helping lead the forwards and Hooker Mustafa Khaled having a stellar opening performance under the leadership of Coaches Camden McGregor, Anthony Spencer, and Robert Figley. 

The weekend was a special one for the program, with nearly 100 attendees for Rugby's Family Weekend, and the match serving as an official event in the university's larger celebration. "Happy to win, but really not concerned with scorelines this early. We were sloppy at times, special at others, and that's about what we expected. Utah Valley is a good side, and they made us work. We have a lot to fix, but a great foundation and a lot of young guys that got their first little taste of what this jersey means" said Duffy. 

Arizona now turns their attention to Sevens, with the first major event of the year coming up in two weeks at the West Coast Sevens on Treasure Island. 

For the Wildcats' full preseason schedule, click here

LINEUP vs UVU

1st XV

1- Caeden Chase

2- Cameron Blair

3- Isaac Morrill

4- Taarik Alikhan

5- Aidan Hendry

6- Jack Brown (C)

7- Breyton DePoint

8- Jack Bresland

9- Jacob Hall

10- Seth Catchpole

11- Tyler Sloan (VC)

12- Charley Redknapp

13- Thomas Figley

14- PJ Coco

15- Matteo Berenger

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16- Mustafa Khaled

17- Harry Bluck

18- Dalton Slaughter

19- Aidan Docherty

20- Troy Norman

21- Gerard Martin

22- Mike McWilliams

23- Dominic Soares