When Cal rugby hosted UC Davis in January, the Bears started strong and easily blew out the Aggies.
It was more of the same in Saturday’s game, albeit with higher stakes.
11 players scored tries for top-seeded Cal as the 15s squad comfortably took down UC Davis, 141-3, in the round of 16 in the D1-A playoffs.
“Our goal is to win the national championship at the end of the year,” said senior flanker Nic Mirhashem. “Every week is a step closer, and we did our part.”
Junior center Christian Dyer scored the first three tries of the match, all within the first 10 minutes, to give the Bears a quick 21-0 lead. This was followed by two tries apiece by sophomore wing Marcus Shankland and freshman flyhalf Sam Walsh and one by senior hooker/prop Jack Iscaro in the next 12 minutes to increase the lead to 56. Walsh converted all of the first eight tries.
It was six minutes before the next try by sophomore lock Sam Golla in the 28th minute to extend the lead to 61-0.
To close out the half, Shankland broke the try zone again, followed by three straight converted tries from Golla as Cal entered the halftime break with a commanding 87-0 advantage.
The Bears opened the second half strong, with freshman center Nick Bloom scoring a converted try within the first minute, followed by junior flanker Sid Holland’s unconverted try two minutes later.
Next, sophomore center Seth Purdey scored a converted try to extend the lead to 108-0 in the 48th minute.
After Bloom and senior prop Tyler Douglas scored a try apiece, UC Davis flyhalf Tarik Siniora converted a penalty kick for the Aggies’ only points, which cut the lead to 120-3 in the 66th minute.
The final 15 minutes, however, did not provide enough time for the Aggies to put a dent in the colossal Bears lead, as the Cal squad put up 21 more points to end the match with a whopping 141-3 victory, with a total of 21 tries scored.
Walsh led the way with 46 points coming from two tries and an incredible 18 for 21 in try conversions. Golla also had a game-high four tries.
With the top seed and a 136-0 blowout win in the team’s last matchup against UC Davis, Cal rugby performed in accordance with its status as the heavy favorite and will advance to the national quarterfinals against No. 4-seeded Arizona on April 20. The Bears will get to host the match because Witter Rugby Field was designated as a quarterfinal location.
“It won’t be bad just getting off the bus and playing (the match),” said head coach Jack Clark, referring to the home-field advantage Saturday and next weekend against Arizona.
After defeating the Wildcats, 55-13, in the regular season just three weeks ago, the Bears will again be heavy favorites to advance to the national semifinals. Last season, Cal reached the national championship final and will look to return and win Clark his 25th rugby 15s championship for the Bears.
Kunal Dutta cover’s rugby. Contact him at [email protected].