ASU rugby battles, but can't pull off the win against Arizona

First half momentum doesn't carry into the second half, allowing Arizona to pull far enough ahead for the win.

ASU rugby played perhaps its best game of the season on Saturday against Arizona, but a second half Wildcat spark pushed them ahead of the Sun Devils 29-17.

The team improved on lineouts and scrums immensely from the last two games against Utah and Cal, but head coach Gary Lane said stupid mistakes in the second half hurt ASU.

“(We were) lifting quicker, moving the feet in the scrum,” Lane said. “We had some people that were sick on the team and they did their best, but we’re carrying some injuries, and that didn’t help either.”

Freshman scrumhalf Nate Short said he felt the team did much better, but that the team needs to work on being a two-half team, instead of just being strong in one half.

“It was a big push forward than last week and the game before,” freshman scrumhalf Nate Short said. “We tend to fall a part any time we panic, but this week any time we panicked we were able to regroup each other.”

The Sun Devils had early momentum that helped them advance down the field and put the first points on the board with a conversion kick by sophomore flyhalf Alex Walsh.

Arizona showed their power shortly after, forcing a try 10 minutes into the game.

From there, the first half stayed close as Walsh powered up the middle for a long try to put ASU back on top 8-7.

Arizona responded with two more of their own conversion kicks to put them ahead 11-10 going into the half.

When the Sun Devils came back out, the momentum from the first half appeared to have died down a bit as Arizona got across the try line five minutes in.

“I honestly think we had a little mental lapse,” Short said. “Anytime we get scored on pretty quick or just mess-up and they get a quick score, we kind of hang our heads a bit and we don’t drive back.”

ASU was able to score again, but it would be the last time the Sun Devils got across the line against the Wildcats.

Arizona pulled ahead midway through the second half, when ASU made those penalties near the try line, Lane said and that would be enough to give them the victory.

Walsh stressed the importance of working on discipline after the match. He said there will be technical things the team needs to work on before their next matchup, but that the focus needs to be on discipline.

“We definitely improved, but there’s still room for improvement,” Walsh said.

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