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Cameron Blair's try off the bench helped jumpstart the Wildcats on the road. (Photo credits: Patrick Mulligan)

February 5- Making a California road trip for the second consecutive weekend tests the depth of any squad. For the Wildcats, that depth would be on full display this past weekend against the reigning DIAA National Champions, using a second half shutout to move the team to 12-3 overall on the year.

The start of the match was delayed due to a lack of referee, another wrinkle for the Wildcats to tangle with on the road. "That was definitely strange. Look scheduling mix-ups happen. Thankful to have a team parent from USD help both teams out in the first half. But also thankful to have a referee for the second half" said Director of Rugby Sean Duffy. The Toreros would jump out to an early 5-0 lead after a series of penalties and a well-worked possession by the hosts and add to it after another penalty in their 22 led to a shot at goal and an 8-0 deficit. From here the visitors would start to work back into the match, with Flyhalf Ted Champion returning to the lineup and working well with first-year center Will Rohrsheim to help the Wildcats string together quality phases. Lucas Smith found Flanker Abe Turpen on an inside line to set up the Wildcats' first try and make it 8-7 in the 28th minute, a great sign for the first-year scrumhalf. Just when the Wildcats seemed to be getting back into the flow of things, a late hit would open the door for the Toreros just before half, one they would storm through to make it 13-7 at the break.

"Halftime was calmer than people may expect. Nothing new, just a reminder why we are scheduling non-conference matches like this, and a signal to tighten things up, especially around set piece and the handling" said Duffy. The set piece would become an integral piece for the Wildcats in the second half, with reserve Hooker Cameron Blair taking advantage of a long-distance maul to put the Wildcats ahead 14-13 after the Champion conversion. Arizona's handling errors and decision making would continue to improve as the match went on, with Fullback Matteo Berenger putting Wing Jacob Broselle away for a linebreak and a try before fellow Wing Antonio Gonzalez would chase down a Lucas Smith kick nine minutes later to make it 28-13 in the first fifteen minutes of the second half. A late score from Jack Brown and some much-improved work in defense would turn a 13-7 halftime deficit into a 28-0 second half, a sign that the team just may be turning the corner ahead of two challenging home matches. 

"It wasn't pretty at times, but that second half was huge, and games like these are crucial for us to evaluate some different combinations, give other guys a rest, and see what some youngsters can do. First-year guys like Smith and Rohrsheim getting the start is a sign of the work they're putting in, and they are just scratching the surface on their potential. Thankful to our alumni and parents who all came down, and to USD who is a well-coached side that we look forward to continuing matches with" said Duffy.


The 8th-ranked Wildcats return home for an important two game stretch, starting with a match up against #9 Central Washington this Saturday on Sitton Field. The Rugby Network will carry the match live with both teams fighting for important victories as the postseason inches closer.

For the Wildcats full schedule click here.


Tries: 5- Turpen, Broselle, Blair, Gonzalez, Brown

Conversions: Champion- 5/5


1. Caeden Chase

2. Tucker Johnstone

3. Liam Swanson

4. Pacific Smiley

5. Joey Lewis

6. Troy Norman

7. Abe Turpen

8. Jack Brown- C

9. Lucas Smith

10. Ted Champion

11. Antonio Gonzalez

12. Will Rohrsheim

13. Mattox King

14. Jacob Broselle

15. Matteo Berenger


16- Cameron Blair

17- Seamus McCarthy

18- Dalton Slaughter

19- Aiden Kemp

20- Tanner DeMassa

21- Seth Catchpole

22- Charley Redknapp

23- Connor McCormick

24- Henry Langrish

25- Mike McWilliams

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