In a night matchup in Vallejo, California against Cal Maritime, a Bears team comprised of seven freshmen and four sophomore reserves routed its opponent 87-0. After a doubleheader sweep against Utah and the Pleasanton Jesters last weekend, many of the team’s underclassmen reserves were out due to rest. The remaining young Bears, however, stepped their games up big for their first weekday matchup.
Cal, who advanced to 8-0 on the season, displayed the full depth of its roster, with 11 Bears scoring tries on the night.
Sophomore prop Peter Sekona played a major role in winning battles in the scrum and in line-outs and ensured possession for his team. Freshmen flankers George Salter and McClain Marks each scored one try, but also provided crucial tackles and set up great territorial matchups for the Bears. In addition, sophomore flyhalf Elliot Webb was decisive with his passes and communication throughout the game, ensuring that his team carried out the game plan fluidly.
While the Bears’ roster comprised of mostly underclassmen, it was the experienced upperclassmen who scored a majority of the tries for the team. Leading the charge were junior wings William Fuller and Justin Dunn, who scored five times in total. With an experienced pair of attackers threatening the defense, the rest of the field was opened up for the rest of the offense.
Junior centers Matthew Coyle and Aidan Flynn both scored a try, with Flynn scoring in the first half and Coyle in the second.
Cal’s superb first half continued well into the second, with the chance of slowing down nowhere in sight. Thanks to a solid performance from Fuller, who came to life in the second half with three tries, the Bears were able to end the night on top by a mile, 87-0.
“I think we definitely had stronger set pieces, and our lineups were more cohesive and we were especially better on the back end,” said matchday captain, sophomore flanker Ben Casey. “We used our backend well with the wings finishing up solid, and it was an overall solid performance.”
While the Bears clearly clicked on the offensive side of the ball, it was the team’s lockdown defensive play that allowed the field to open up for easier attacking opportunities. Although Cal’s reserve team was young, it still played with some of the same physicality that the starting team displays.
“Set pieces were especially key because we wanted to set them on the back foot,” Casey said. “We had some nice defensive plays which led to solid attacking chances.”
For an ambitious reserve squad, this win is not something to settle on. As the season continues, more issues that need to be fixed come up, and the Bears have wasted no time in improving upon them. Wednesday’s win is no different.
“I think each week it’s nice to get a list of things to work on,” Casey said. “We could use a few more people in the rucks to gain possession and our scrums definitely need a bit more work.”
Up next for the Bears is an away match at Santa Clara on Saturday afternoon. As the reserve team takes a few days off, the starting team will return to the field in hopes of continuing its undefeated season. After a week off, Cal’s roster should be relatively injury and fatigue free, which is crucial if it wants to keep its hot win streak going.
Nikhil Bhumralkar covers rugby. Contact him at [email protected].