The gap opened up, and Harry Adolphus was through and sliding under the posts to score the Cal rugby team’s 15th try just as the sharp noise of the whistle signaled the end of the match. A Dartmouth team coming out of a tough winter season were faced with a punishing Cal, and it barely survived to tell the tale.
In a special St. Patrick’s Day event at Witter Rugby Field on Monday night, the Bears (16-0, 5-0 PAC) took on Ivy champions Dartmouth (6-2, 6-0 Ivy), and while the former was firing on all cylinders, the latter seemed a little rusty. Cal dominated a struggling Dartmouth side that barely had their hands on the ball with a 99-7 scoreline.
“It was one of our better performances,” said head coach Jack Clark. “Our commitment to playing was better.”
In the opening five minutes, Cal scored a try through the quick feet of scrum half Nicklas Boyer, and the tries would keep on coming as a flurry of players got their names on the scoreboard. The Bears were cutting up the Dartmouth defense with great angles, especially center Jesse Milne, who was breaking the line at every opportunity.
At the breakdown, Cal was also strong, the forwards working hard to clear the ruck to enable fast ball and fast play. Boyer made sure to exploit this ferocity, making quick darts around the fringes and scoring tries for his endeavors.
“I just saw those gaps appear, and that’s mostly because of our speed of play,” Boyer said. “We have such good forwards, so strong and dominant, and they just created those gaps for me.”
Their relative power in the breakdown could have been used to punish Dartmouth further, as Cal had the opportunity to push through in defense and gain more turnovers. The Bears were often happy to stay down and allow their opponents to keep the ball.
“I thought we could have been a little bit more aggressive defensively,” said Clark. “I thought there were some balls that we could have counter-rucked.”
The defensive play in general was impressive, as the Bears’ line speed ensured the Dartmouth attack had few options going forward. Their defense in scrummage was also good; on more than one occasion, the Cal forwards pushed through to steal the ball from under Dartmouth’s feet. In one moment, it led to another try.
“We always have work to do on the scrum,” said prop George Vrame. “It’s nice to put together a couple of good scrum performances”
The Dartmouth blowout will be an important morale boost for Cal going into the second leg of its “World Cup” game against British Columbia in Canada on Sunday.
Daniella Mogilner covers rugby. Contact her at [email protected].