ASU Rugby beat Phoenix 24-22 in their preseason game on Friday, October 15th at the ASU Multi-Purpose fields.
ASU came into the game fresh off a third-place finish at the Gold Coast 7s tournament. However, many players got sick at the tournament and had not practiced all week, so they started on the bench. Syd Schonwald and Cole Macias missed the game due to being sick. ASU was also missing Scrum-Halfs Alex MacDonald and Joey Bridgman, Center Josh Lesley, Hooker Ethan Walls and Loose-Head Prop McCade Siegle to injuries.
ASU went behind early after the first of many offside penalties, Phoneix kicked to the corner for the lineout. From the lineout, Phoneix played tight around the ruck through a series of powerful forward carries that kept ASU's forwards occupied. When they did spin the ball wide a missed one on one tackle gave them the first try. ASU would strike back through a Phoniex error, the Phoniex winger tried to prevent a kick for touch from going out but palmed the ball straight into the hands of Evyeni Gavriilidis who crossed for a try in his first start for ASU. Phoneix's try second was similar to the first, with an offside penalty leading to a lineout before powering over through a pick-and-go.
From there the game went into a holding pattern ASU dominated in terms of linebreaks and field position but would turn the ball over in Phoneix's 22. Phoenix would get up to around halfway before losing the ball themselves. The game would stay 10:7 in favor of Phoneix till halftime.
Early in the second-half Phoneix crossed in the corner to make the game 15:7. They would march right back down the field to score another try and move ahead 22:7. After the fourth try ASU brought off almost all the starters and brought on the replacement to turn things around. It took just a few minutes for ASU to work their way up to the Phoneix 5-meter line. When Sean Martin, playing with the after-effects of the flu, powered over to score his first try of the game. He would score again a few minutes later handing off a defender on his way to the corner that would make the score 22:17 heading into the closing stages of the game.
ASU would dominate the final stage of the game, attacking furiously but coming up against stubborn a Phoneix defense. One problem was ASU's lack of a genuine kicking option on the field. Phoenix was able to give away penalties and would not have to worry about losing that much territory. Sometimes they even gained possession off a missed touch kick.
Phoneix's resistance would be broken late on after a controlled ASU attack created space using their forwards leaving Phoneix down numbers out wide. Fly-half Matt Loeffler kept the ball when the ball went wide and crossed virtually untouched to tie the game. Before full-back, Kai Lyles kicked the winning points.
ASU's pre-season games will wrap up on Friday, November 18th at 7:30 against the Scottsdale Blues the game will be played at the ASU Multi-Purpose Fields.