The California Rugby Bears debuted in their new home on Treasure Island Saturday afternoon with a 95-5 trouncing of the Division I Chico State Wildcats.
The match was a shutout until the 85th minute when Chico's Tony Joyce finally engineered an uncoverted try.
The Wildcats came into the match with a bit of a swagger, having pulled off a 16-13 upset over the Aggies of UC-Davis last Saturday. UC-Davis, like Cal, is a College Premier League side.
Chico's swagger soon turned to wobble as the Bears unloaded the first of 14 unanswered tries from the match's second minute.
Wary of the Wildcats' upset, Coach Jack Clark peppered his lineup with seasoned veterans in the first half, allowing Blaine Scully, Seamus Kelly, Dustin Muhn, Connor Ring, Neill Barrett, Sean Gallinger, Tom Rook and Derek Asbun, all seniors, to touch down behind the tryline. Sophomore Seamus Kelly, an experienced back, also contributed a try. The first half's effort was rounded out with an inaugural try by freshman Jake Anderson.
Senior James Bailes' boot was relied upon for conversions in the opening stanza, which ended 55-0 in Cal's favor.
With a comfortable lead in hand, Jack Clark was free to put in more of his development contingent, including junior center Charles Smith, who then paid back the coach with two tries. Also doubling today was senior flanker Derek Asbun.
The second half's other tries were scored by junior Ahmed Chehade, sophomore Andre Coquillard, and a debut try by sophomore Lyall Davenport.
The Bears earned a 67 percent conversion ratio in the match, which contributed to the side's 1.2 point-a-minute scoring average. That's par for the season to date. By comparison, tries were converted 70 percent of the time during the regular season last year and 60 percent the year before.
With today's win, the Bears are undefeated in nine games and have outscored their opponents by a 417-28 margin. An average score differential of 43 points per game may seem impressive, but there's formidable competition from Cal's Premier League arch rival, BYU.
BYU wrapped up a three-match Southern California road trip today, shutting out San Diego State 69-0. Earlier, BYU defeated the University of San Diego and the Claremont Colleges side. All told, The Cougars have racked up a 57-point-per-game scoring advantage in their first three preseason outings.
The BYU ruggers will be idle until next month's Las Vegas Invitational Tournament where they'll clash with Penn State and and Cal Poly-SLO. Cal, meantime, will face Stanford for the Scrum Axe next Saturday and Division II Cal Maritime Academy on February 9,before heading to Las Vegas to meet Wyoming and Air Force.
The Las Vegas Invitational Tournament is a prelude to HSBC Sevens World Series play which will be televised on NBC and Universal Sports February 12-13.