With a road trip up to British Colombia and a showdown with St. Mary’s looming in the near distance, the Cal rugby team needed a pair of convincing and solid wins to get its confidence back before its two most important matches of the year.
After steamrolling UCLA last Saturday, the Bears got exactly what they needed for the second week in a row.
Cal again put up a lopsided final score, taking out UC Davis 88-7 Saturday afternoon at Russell Field. After three consecutive weeks of matches decided by two points or less, the Bears have now won back-to-back matchups with a combined score of 166-10.
“The first couple games where it was close made us realize that this isn’t the normal Cal team,” said senior Antony Lombardo. “But after UCLA and after the game today, we have a big confidence booster going up to UBC. This gives us the mindset that we can play well and we can play as Cal.”
Against the Aggies, freshman Eakalafi Okusi got the Bears on the board first with a try in the second minute of the match. Twenty minutes later, a pair of tries from sophomore Paul Bosco made it 33-0 with just under an hour left to play.
For the second week in a row, the Cal forwards dominated the match, physically outmuscling UC Davis’ frontline. The Cal backs had all kinds of space to work with, and five Bears had scored a total of seven tries by halftime.
“We were OK,” said coach Jack Clark. “It was kind of a similar performance to last week — a pretty solid, mostly good performance.”
The Aggies found something reminiscent of life at the end of the first half, as they had possession of the ball deep in Cal territory, looking to punch in for a try before the halftime whistle blew. The Bears’ defense initially held strong, stalemating the Davis attack and keeping it out of the try zone for 10 consecutive phases — with most of the set plays resulting in prime scoring opportunities.
However, a Cal player was called for leaving his feet and jumping into a ruck, and the Aggies were awarded a penalty try — their lone score of the day — cutting the Bears’ lead to 40-7 at the break.
“It was pretty frustrating,” Lombardo said. “We just gave up a couple penalties that were stupid mistakes. That basically shocked us, and showed us that they were here to play as well.”
In the second half, the Bears regained their form and continued to light up the scoreboard. Senior Danny Barrett added two late tries for a hat trick, and Cal left Davis nearly unscathed.
Now, the Bears have a week to prepare for a rematch with a much stauncher British Colombia team on Sunday. Cal holds a one-point advantage from its win in February and will be looking to hold on to its sixth consecutive World Cup win.
“We couldn’t be more ready,” Barrett said.