Paced by a sterling effort from their massive forwards, Brigham Young University looked most impressive in defeating Central Washington 76-7 Thursday in the first match of a three-game trip to Seattle.
BYU rode a coach all the way from Provo on a somewhat hair-raising overnight trip through the mountains. But they made it safely and put the Wildcats on notice early.
BYU muffed the kickoff, giving Central an attacking scrum right off the bat. However, the Cougar pack, anchored as it was by four All Americans in Mikey Su’a and Ray Forrester in the front row, Mark Bonham in the second row, and captain Ryan Roundy at No. 8, didn’t let them get much started. Still in their own half, BYU stole the put-in from the scrum – or rather, they steamrolled over the CWU pack – and from there spun the ball simply to wing Malosi Te’o, and he did the rest, going 50 meters for the try.
That was a demoralizing start for CWU, and they spent the rest of the half trying to contain the hard-charging BYU backs, orchestrated well by flyhalf Dylan Lubbe.
Central made BYU work for it, but the Cougars were up to the challenge. Ten minutes it a lineout-and-drive was carried on by prop Mikey Su’a, and then finished by flanker Kumi Tua’one. That made it 12-0, and just as quickly it was 19-0, as the BYU backs made the initial break, and prop Ray Forrester finished it off, taking the pass at pace and crashing over the line.
BYU seemed to have another try, but Forrester was called for obstruction after he dished to Smith. No matter, as the Cougars kept the pressure up. Central was winning the lineouts, led by lock Sean Wanigasekera. But BYU had the measure of the scrums, and then sum, and their counter-rucking was such that Central rarely got more than two phases to create anything.
Lock TJ Allred went over from short rang, and then Roundy had an easy try, as his pack shoved the scrum over the tryline and all he had to do was tap the ball on the line.
That made it 33-0, and center Hoseki Kofe, who was distributing well and breaking tackles superbly, thundered over to make it 40-0. And with the half winding down, Lubbe scampered in under the posts.
That made it 47-0 at halftime.
Both teams made some changes at halftime. CWU had held out two of their more well-known players, Patrick Blair and Tim Stanfill. Head Coach Bob Ford had hoped to rest those two, but was forced to use them. One he couldn’t use was regular flyhalf Bijan Ghambari, who was out sick.
BYU put the pressure on early in the second half, but a turnover at the ruck deep in the CWU end gave Stanfill a chance to do something. The 7s All American swooped onto the ball and set off from 90 meters out, fending off a couple of tackles and outpacing others to score for Central.
That was their only scoring, however. BYU struggled with some continuity and timing, and saw one try dropped at the line. But Roundy and Su’a, especially were effective taking the ball up, and Kofe ran in two more tries, while flanker Hynie Leaaetoa was a constant danger and deserved the try he scored. Su’a and David Williams capped off the tries for BYU.
Central could not get much more going, and often resorted to the kick. That could have helped them if they had kicked more to space; however too often those kicks ended up in the hands of a speedy, confident BYU player.
“It felt good; we started pretty well,” said BYU flyhalf Lubbe. “In the second half out structure fell down a little bit. We had some new guys and we struggled with combinations.”
Lubbe had plenty of go-forward ball as the BYU pack was superb, poaching ball, playing defense, move the ball down the field, and winning scrums.
“It’s incredible with such a strong pack giving you great ball,” he said.
“I felt really good about the field half; the second half we lost our focus a little bit,” added BYU Head Coach David Smyth. “Timing and becoming familiar with each other in pressure situations. We saw some good stuff and some stuff to work on.”
As for CWU, it was a rough game, but one with a couple of positives.
“We got some young guys getting some experience and you can’t find a bigger measuring stick than BYU,” said Head Coach Bob Ford. “We had some opportunities that we didn’t finish, and we’ve got to build on those opportunities. But the video won’t lie, and it will show where we were deficient.”
Tries: Te’o, Forrester, Tua’one, Lubbe, Allred, Leaaetoa , Kofe 3, Roundy, Su’a, Williams
Convs: Lasike 6, Finake 2