WILDCATS BREAK LOOSE IN SEASON OPENER
It was all smiles on Saturday as Mattox King, EJ Freeman and the Wildcats moved to 1-0 on the season. (Photo credits: Josh Pearson)
Feb 6- Arizona got their 2023 regular season started on Saturday as they hosted Utah in an early season key conference match.
"A lot happened this week, with our big announcement and everything going on around that, our home fans, I was a little curious how we would respond" said Director of Rugby Sean Duffy. Thanks to Scrumhalf George O'Brien, any concern was put to rest early as his two tries in the first seven minutes put the hosts ahead 14-0. "George is really growing up, learning when to back himself but of course doing his primary job as a Scrumhalf, and even adding things to his game that I think we saw today that make him one to keep an eye on" said Duffy. O'Brien would have a hand in multiple other scores, including assists to both Flanker Abe Turpen and Fullback Matteo Berenger while adding a third try of his own. Arizona jumped out to an early 45-0 lead at half, allowing for the staff to use their finishers and evaluate combinations.
The second half saw Arizona's centers start to come in to focus, with both Mattox King and EJ Freeman touching down for their second tries of the game, followed by an 80-meter restart return try by Fullback Matteo Berenger to get Sitton Field fans and those watching at home on their feet. From there, the Wildcats' bench responded to a late Utah try, with Breyton DePoint scoring twice to cement the win in the season opener.
"I think we did a lot of good things, but we also have a number of clear work-ons both individually and as a team. Utah is a building side and the scoreline probably flatters us more than it should. What I'm most pleased about is the vibe during and after, guys are happier for their teammates' plays than their own. Guys are excited about doing little things great, not just tries. That's a great sign" said Duffy.
Newly named captain James Rivers was ecstatic after the performance but locked in on the next task. "I am extremely proud of the boys, we stuck to our game plan and it paid off. Can't wait for BYU this week" said Rivers.
The Wildcats will take on #8 BYU at Sitton Field next Saturday.
Final score: 95-5
Tries: O'Brien (3), Berenger (2), Freeman (2), King (2), DePoint (2), Bresland (2), Turpen, Green
Conv: Berenger- 7/10, Hall- 3/4, McCormick- 0/1
3- Isaac Morrill
8- Jack Bresland
11- Dom Soares
22- Charlie Green