When Old Puget Sound Beach (OPSB) took on the BYU Cougars at Magnuson Park in Seattle, it was considered a friendly preseason match. Apparently the players never got that memo and showed it on the pitch in a well fought 19-15 nail bitter in favor of BYU.
From start to finish it was a physical match between two solid squads. BYU, having played twice against CWU and UW in the days before, didn’t show much signs of fatigue and came out ready to attack with their forward pack. OPSB answered the call with their own physicality throughout the match.
Back and forth they went for the first 15 minutes with some crucial errors that prevented either team from getting on the scoreboard. It wasn’t until the 17th minute that OPSB scrumhalf Bobby Fitzpatrick took advantage of a BYU penalty just outside the 22-meter line to crack the scoreboard 3-0.
That seemed to light a fire under the Cougars as they quickly rumbled down the field with some shifty moves by outside center Paul Lasike before dishing the ball off to prop Ray Forrester for a 5-3 advantage. From there it was both defenses that held their own for the next 20 minutes into the half.
The second half was a bit of a different story as both teams seemed to make the proper adjustments and came out firing. OPSB got things started right away with a lineout deep in BYU territory which quickly turned into a maul that saw flanker Tim Jacobsen touch the ball down for a 10-5 lead.
A few minutes later and OPSB was back in scoring territory with a blocked 22-meter kick from Lasike. OPSB collectively managed to work their way inside the 5-meter and took advantage of a BYU penalty when flyhalf Alipate Tuilevuka took a quick tap, faked to his left and dove between two Cougars to put OPSB up 15-5.
However, like all great teams, BYU never lost a bit of confidence and clawed their way back into the game. Turning back to their physicality, BYU’s All-American eight-man Ryan Roundy took the ball off the ruck, down the sidelines and cut back to make two OPSB players miss for a try and make things interesting at 15-12 with less than 10 minutes
Lasike missed the conversion, and OPSB tried to seal the game after the restart. Beach probed a weakness in the BYU defense down the far sideline. And just when everyone thought it was OPSB’s match for the taking, an unforced error resulted in a scrum to BYU. Three phases later and BYU winger Will Taylor got the ball out wide and turned on the burners for BYU’s final try and seal the victory 19-15 with the Cougar faithful erupting from the sideline.
“Our boys played a great game and did a great job of matching the physicality of OPSB,” BYU head coach David Smyth said. “These games served as building blocks for the foundation we want to set early and the boys did a great job of answering the call every game.”
From the in-game perspective it seemed as though BYU were a bit tired, but knew when to put their games faces on. “We knew we needed to be physical and couldn’t wait for them to come to us,” BYU captain and No. 8 Ryan Roundy said. “Our fitness was a big part of the game today and despite having played a few games before and being a bit worn, we knew what we had to do when the match got underway.”
For OPSB, a preseason game like this was exactly what they needed before the start to their season. “The ending score didn’t matter to me because it’s preseason, I wanted to get the guys some action against a top-tier opponent before our schedule and get the new guys some playing time,” OPSB head coach Evan Haigh said. “From what I saw, I would’ve liked to see our guys to be more patient with our possessions and play more of our style of rugby.”