Senior flyhalf/fullback Elliot Webb scored a game-high 20 points with two tries and five conversions, as Cal rugby overwhelmed UCLA 81-0, handing the Bruins their first home loss of conference play.
Cal (10-1, 2-0 Pac-12) has yet to allow any points in Pac-12 play since they hope to defend their conference title from last year and return to the national championship final yet another time after losing it last year. The Bruins (9-3, 2-2 Pac-12) aimed to avenge a 31-3 preseason home loss to the Bears in January, but ended up the victim of Cal’s sixth shutout of the early season.
The Bears pulled away early, as junior center Christian Dyer scored a try just five minutes into the match, which Webb converted. Three minutes later, Webb scored and converted a try of his own to take a quick 14-0 lead.
“We were able to control a lot of the possession,” said Cal head coach Jack Clark. “It made playing defense easier for us.”
The Bruins could not stop a Cal onslaught in the first half, as junior prop Damon Wiley scored a converted try in the 11th minute, followed by an unconverted try from junior wing Sam Cusano.
The Bears featured 11 different scorers, punching in 13 tries by the end of the match, as freshman lock Max Murphy extended the Cal lead to 33-0 and Webb converted his try in the 21st minute. Seven minutes later, senior fullback Troy Lockyear joined the scoring party with an unconverted try of his own. The Bears finished a fruitful first half, with Webb’s second try and conversion and Ben Casey’s unconverted try in the last two minutes to take a dominating 50-0 lead.
UCLA still competed in the second half. They failed to put up points in the end, but allowed less scoring to finish a more manageable 40 minutes.
“They stayed in the match through the second half,” said Clark.
The freshmen pair of scrumhalf Henry Poon and flyhalf Sam Walsh struck first in the second half, scoring and converting a try in the 46th minute, respectively. The ten minutes between this try and the next, the first of sophomore wing Marcus Shankland’s tries, was the second-longest scoring drought of the match. Junior lock Sebastian Bader scored an unconverted try six minutes later to extend the lead to 67-0.
The Bears did not hold back, scoring two more converted tries to end the game with 81 points, a refreshingly lopsided game for Cal after two close matches in the annual “World Cup” series against the University of British Columbia (a 24-22 win and a 28-24 loss).
The Bears spread the wealth in terms of scoring, as 11 players found the try zone for the 13 tries, led by Webb’s two tries and five conversions and Shankland’s two tries. After starting 30 different players in the World Cup series, the team was able to mix youth and experience, while upperclassmen such as Webb and Cusano were assisted by freshmen starters Poon and Murphy, who each scored. Walsh, also a freshman, scored three conversions off the bench.
During the upcoming week, Cal will prepare for a busy weekend, first visiting Bay Area opponent Santa Clara on Friday at 6 p.m., then returning to Witter Rugby Field to play in an 11 a.m. match against Humboldt State on Saturday to precede the homecoming match against Pac-12 rival Utah at 1 p.m., where the previous Cal rugby national champion teams of 1994, 1999 and 2004 will be recognized for their 25th, 20th and 15th reunion.
Kunal Dutta cover’s rugby. Contact him at [email protected].