Saint Mary’s runs past San Diego State and into the Semifinals

D1A Rugby: Saint Mary’s runs past San Diego State and into the Semifinals
Photo Credit: Karen Drinkwater

MORAGA, Calif. – Saint Mary’s College outdid its 52-point regular season lashing of San Diego State Saturday, April 22 in the Quarterfinals of the D1A Rugby Playoffs. The Gaels found the try zone eleven times in front of the home fans at Saint Mary’s Stadium during a 72-5 defeat of the Aztecs.

Having returned from a week-long tour in Scotland not six full days before kickoff, Canterbury’s No. 1-ranked team showed no signs of jetlag in its first game in the States since the first of April. A pair of All-American backs scored the first sevens points of the game when scrum half Holden Yungert scored a try and Dylan Audsley converted the two-pointer.

Mike Wallace, Aaron Matthews, Henry Hall would also make their way to pay dirt in the opening period. As too would Vili Helu. The All-American’s double in the first half helped pushed the Gaels to a 38-0 lead over a San Diego State side that simply had no answers for the California Conference Champions.

“The team continues to improve each day they are together,” Saint Mary’s Head Coach Tim O’Brien noted. “It’s great to see and I sometimes wonder if they even need coaches they are so balanced and focused.”

The second half started in similar fashion as the beginning of the match, with Yungert’s converted try initiating the scoring in the second frame. A successful penalty kick by Audsley gave the full back 13 points to his personal tally, and his next two points came after Helu completed a hat trick to bring Saint Mary’s lead to 60-0.

The Aztecs were finally able to erase the zero from their end of the scoreboard thanks to an unconverted try, but those were the only points the Gaels would relinquish. Two more scores would end the offensive barrage and push Saint Mary’s final lead to 72-5.

The lackluster performance was surprising given how well San Diego State had been playing as of late, including its 41-31 win against Utah in the opening round of the playoffs. Take no credit away from an incredible Saint Mary’s team, but the Aztecs will continue to look to close the gap between themselves and the two-time National Champions in seasons to come.

As an opposing coach who has seen San Diego State a number of times in recent years and a proven track record of building a program, Saint Mary’s O’Brien things if the Aztecs keep their coaches staff together, patiently build their culture and continue to bring in good players they’ll have a bright future.

“If these three steps stay intact they are headed in an extremely positive direction.”

Next up for the Gaels is a University of Arizona team coming off a Quarterfinal win over Red River Champions Baylor. The Wildcats outclassed the Bears to a tune of 48-5 in Waco, Texas and will now prepare for its first-ever D1A Rugby Semifinal.

The April 29 contest will be hosted by Saint Mary’s Saturday, April 29 and see the winner advance to the May 6 D1A Rugby National Championship. The 2017 D1A Final will also be played at Saint Mary’s Stadium, with a kickoff time set for 4 p.m. PT and will be broadcasted live on CBS Sports Network.