Report provided by Utah Utes Rugby
Mesquite, NV - The University of Utah Rugby team opened the 2012 season today in Mesquite, Nevada with a 51-0 victory over UC Santa Barbara. Utah's defense was tough all day not allowing UC Santa Barbara to cross the try line. The Utes were led on offense by blindside flanker Alex Muehle with three tries on the afternoon.
The game began with tough pressure from both sides of the ball. Santa Barbara pressured the Utes on offense but were unable to score. Santa Barbara pressured Utah at the breakdown all afternoon. Utah was able to kick out of pressure. Alex Muehle scored his first try in open play off of a line out. Soon after Winston Harris broke the gaucho defense for Utah's second score. Don Pati then scored on a quick tap to put the Utes up 15 - 0 midway through the first half.
"We knew we need to jump out of the gate early on this team, because they are a well coached team and came out with great intensity. We knew we needed to match it," said Utah Flyhalf Tonata Lauti.
After some back and forth play the Utah forwards were able to string together some phases before Muehle, a Junior native of Covington, Washington, scored Utah's fourth try. Not long after that a nice counter attack saw Winston Harris break the line leading to Mote Houma' first try of the year. After Muehle picked from the back of the scrum leading to his third try of the day, the Utes went in at half time leading 32 - 0.
As the second half started so did the windy conditions causing all sorts of problems for both teams to establish any kind of kicking game. Utah managed to get an early try from Nick Mostyn to bring the score to 37 - 0. The score would remain as the teams traded possessions. That changed when Zach Taylor received a nice pop kick from Winston Harris for the score. A conversion followed by substitute fly half Danny Christensen putting Utah ahead 44 - 0. The last try of the game came in the last few seconds when Utah finally used the wind to its advantage by kicking the ball down field and Danny Christensen on a great chase falling on the ball for the score. With the conversion of his own try in the final seconds Utah won the game 51 - 0.
Utah head coach Blake Burdette was pleased with the effort of his team and the outcome. "It is always great to play UCSB and we are fortunate to catch them at the beginning of the year as you saw with them last year, they get stronger as the season goes on. They are very competitive and are well coached. We have a long way to go but we are beginning to figure out the identity of this year's team."
In the reserve game Utah came out on top 62 - 17 with strong performances from freshman Kaleb Hogan, freshman Connor Airmet, and sophomore Garrett Battaglia.
Utah Rugby's next match will be against Cal Poly January 21st in Mesquite, Nevada.
Tries: Muehle 3, Harris, Pati, Houma, Mostyn, Taylor, Christensen
Conversions: T. Lauti, Christensen 2