NAU RECAP: SECOND HALF SURGE SEALS WIN IN FLAGSTAFF
Arizona Third XV 44
Chaz Huntsman (L) and Carter Harris (R) played vital roles in the Wildcats' win over NAU. (Photo Credit: Kimberly Wainwright)
October 1- Arizona Third XV traveled to Flagstaff yesterday in the return trip of their two-match series with Northern Arizona, hoping to build on a 37-10 victory two weeks ago in Tucson.
While September 16th was some consistent attack from the Wildcats, round two was much more back and forth, with the Lumberjacks breaking open the scoring on a nice chip and chase to give the hosts a 7-0 lead. Responding to the challenge, Lock Austin Strehlow stole the ensuing kickoff which landed in the hands of Scrumhalf Tanner Davison, who set up Alex Rayton for the try. Soon after, an Arizona maul in the NAU 22 led to Wing Tristan Wallace sneaking through for his first try of the preseason, which Flyhalf Kristian Sanchez converted to make it 12-7 Wildcats. The Lumberjacks would respond, however, scoring two tries in quick fashion to take a 17-12 lead before Rayton's second just before halftime tied it up.
Going in to the break, it was the Wildcats who needed to adjust, making changes which they hoped would reap rewards. Relying on their maul again, Arizona put NAU on the back foot to start the half and Jayme Thomas broke the line on a crash to make it 22-17, but NAU again bounced back with a try to tie it. The Wildcats' fitness and attacking structure began to turn the corner in the final 20 however, with Davison touching down for a short try that was converted by Nick Taylor before Thomas again broke the line and this time set up Brody Wainwright for the try to make it 34-22. The finishing touches came at the hands of Luke Kampton, who broke the NAU line and put Riley Kerr away for the Australian's first try of the preseason and the 41-22 scoreline to put the game out of reach. A Davison penalty sealed the win for the Wildcats, with Assistant Coach Patrick Coco's side now off to a 2-0 preseason start.
Despite the back and forth game, the coaching staff was thrilled to see their mostly young group get in to some adversity and battle through, outscoring the Lumberjacks 27-5 in the second half. "It was a great game and we're excited to have this quality relationship with NAU now where we can play multiple times each year. We learn so much more about our players in games like we had today, and I was happy to see guys like Jayme Thomas and Alex Rayton bounce back from some early mistakes to make big plays while guys like Chaz Huntsman and Chris McBride did a ton of dirty work that did not go unnoticed" said Head Coach Sean Duffy.
Arizona Third XV will take on Grand Canyon University in a two-match series the next two weeks before a bye week and a trip to UC-San Diego to end the preseason. Arizona Second XV will also take on GCU as the Wildcats look to gain invaluable experience for their roster heading in to the regular season.
Tries: Rayton (2), Thomas, Wallace, Davison, Wainwright, Kerr
Conv: Taylor- 2/4, Sanchez 1/3,
Pen: Davison- 1/1, Sanchez- 0/1