Young bears tally largest win of season

Carli Baker/File
The Cal rugby team tacked on its widest final margin this season versus Santa Cruz on Sunday.

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The Cal rugby frosh/soph squad played what will likely be its final match of the 2012 season on Sunday, and the younger Bears made sure to go out with a bang.

Cal (15-1) dominated UC Santa Cruz this weekend at Lower East Field in Santa Cruz, Calif., pouring salt on the Banana Slugs for a 128-0 win — the squad’s largest margin of victory this season.

“For a lot of us, this was basically our last chance to show the coaches that we can perform,” said freshman James Poindexter. “A lot of guys really stepped up to the plate.”

A week after watching the top side dominate UBC in the World Cup, Cal’s underclassmen were ready to do the same once given the chance. And despite starting 11 freshman and 4 sophomores, the Bears proved too big, athletic and disciplined for Santa Cruz to handle.

The Banana Slugs came into the game with just a 4-4 record but had battled powerhouse St. Mary’s to a 17-12 loss and put up an impressive 31-10 win over Cal Maritime. However, playing host to Cal would prove to be a different story, as Santa Cruz could not physically match what the Bears had to offer.

Right out of the gate, the Bears jumped out to a 12-0 lead on tries from freshmen Nick Boyer and Andre Battaglia. Just 20 minutes later, Cal found themselves up 40-0, continuing to physically dictate the flow of the match.

“We were just moving the ball throw through our hands really efficiently,” Poindexter said. Everyone was on queue and our timing was really good.”

By halftime, the Bears had tallied 10 tries — four from Battaglia and three from freshman Matt Chipman — for a 66-0 lead.

It was more of the same in the second half, as the Banana Slugs failed to gain any positive momentum. The Bears continued to physically dominate, disrupting anything and everything that Santa Cruz tried.

“We just had a lot of possession and not much pressure against us,” said coach Jack Clark. “There were opportunities for us all around the field, it was just a matter of passing and catching.”

With over 15 minutes still remaining, Cal had passed the century mark and matched their highest point total of the season, up 109-0. The Bears’ attack remained balanced and lethal, tallying 17 tries from 10 different players.

But Cal wasn’t quite done yet, remaining the aggressor for 17 more points, resulting in the squad’s largest scoring output since 2010.

Still, the squad knows that many of its fundamental shortcomings were masked by the sheer discrepancy of talent on the rugby pitch, and that there is plenty of work to be done for the young Bears.

“These are young guys, and there is time to correct all those skill deficiencies,” Clark said. “If we had played a team to our similar standard today, some of our mistakes would’ve been exploited. And because they weren’t doesn’t mean that they weren’t there.”

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Sunday’s win was the largest margin of victory in the last 15 years. In fact, the Cal rugby team beat Humboldt State, 152-0, in 2010.