Claremont Rugby Falls 62-7 to California

 

Sunday’s supposed to be a day of rest, but this week, Rugby Saturday stretched into Sunday in the Southland when the California Golden Bears (21-0, 5-0) capped a double-header weekend with a penalty-plagued 62-7 victory over the Claremont Dragons (0-7, 0-3).

 

Yellow cards slowed the Bears’ scoring pace and opened up opportunities for Claremont. In Saturday’s 100-0 shutout of the UCLA Bruins, California racked up 1.3 points every minute. In Sunday’s contest, Cal's per-minute pace dropped to only 0.8 points. Sin-binning reduced Cal’s strength to 14 players twice in today’s match.

The Bears’ first-half scoring duties were divvied up 4-2 in favor of the backs, starting with junior flyhalf Alex Aronson’s penalty kick in the 14th minute. Tries were then touched down by brothers Danny Barrett, a junior, and Neill Barrett, a senior, together with scores from senior Connor Ring and freshman Jake Anderson. Senior Sean Gallinger capped the Bears’ first stanza effort with a converted try, making the score 34-0 at the interval.

 

Aronson converted 3-of-5 tries in the first half.

 

Gallinger picked up where he left off in the second half with a converted try within a minute of the kick-off. The senior back’s momentum then won him a hat trick in the 46th minute with another converted try to make the Bears’ tally 48-0.

 

Claremont’s sole visit to the try zone came in the 66th minute when flyhalf Ben Eachus dotted down while the Bears were down a man. Fullback Evan Nigh converted, bringing the scoreline to 48-7.

 

Freshman wrapped up California’s scoring when Jake Anderson touched down for the second time, followed by Jason Fry’s 80th-minute try. Both tries were successfully converted, making the final score 62-7.

 

Second-half booting by Alex Aronson was perfect as all four of Cal’s tries were successfully converted.  For the day, Aronson was 7-for-9 on conversions, a notch above Cal’s 63 percent average for CPD matches this season.

 

Today’s win is Cal’s fifth College Premier Division victory, which keeps the Bears atop the Pacific Conference table with two division matches left to play. St Mary’s (9-1, 4-0) is the West Coast’s #2, with a perfect four-match record.

 

The conference’s two top teams will move on to the CPD post-season in May.

 

The Bear’s next conference match is, in fact, against the Gaels. With Stanford University remaining in Division 1, St Mary’s has become the Bears’ rivalry game for standing in the nascent CPD.

 

Coming off a 57-17 victory over Cal Poly SLO, the Gaels will host California at Pat Vincent Field on April 10. St Mary’s winning margin over the Mustangs is pretty much in line with its conference average of 43 points. Overall, the team averages a 30-point win margin. In contrast, the Bears have averaged wins by 59 points overall and by 77 points in CPD contests.

 

California will wrap up regular season play with a contest against Cal Poly SLO (4-5,1-3) on April 23.

 

At the regular season’s end, the Pacific Conference’s #1 side will have home field advantage in a May 7 quarterfinal, forcing the Mid-South Conference’s #2 to travel to the West Coast. Not that home field advantage means that much in the CPD season -- after 53 matches, home teams are actually suffering a nearly 3 percent disadvantage.

 

At this point, Arkansas State holds on to the Mid-South’s second perch, but after the Red Wolves’ upset of #1 Life University Saturday, there’s only a two-point difference between the sides on the conference table. The Bears could end up facing either team in the quarterfinal.

 

The Bears would have an easier time in a row against Arkansas State. Life’s Running Eagles are more explosive, amassing 194 points in conference play vs. 126 won by Arkansas State. The Red Wolves are the better defensive side, however, yielding only 29 points compared to Life’s 61-point concession.

 

The elephant, of course, is BYU, which tops the Western Conference standings with a 5-0 record and is spoiling for another shot at the Bears for the national championship. The Cougars’ also have two matches remaining in their schedule -- against the waning Arizona Wildcats (6-6, 1-2) and the resurgent Sun Devils of Arizona State (4-2, 3-1).

In other CPD action this weekend:

 

BYU 123-3 Wyoming

Army 32-23 Dartmouth

Kutztown 68-24 Ohio State

Navy 29-12 Penn State

Tennessee 32-22 Oklahoma

Texas A&M 13-6 Notre Dame

Arizona State 40-10 Colorado State

Air Force 36-15 Colorado

Utah 45-19 Arizona

Cal 100-0 UCLA

Central Washington 35-25 UC Davis

St Mary’s 57-17 Cal Poly SLO

Top of the Tables

 

Pacific Conference

 

1 Cal 5-0

2 St Mary’s 4-0

 

Western Conference

 

1 BYU 5-0

2 Arizona State 3-1

 

Mid-South Conference

 

1 Life University 3-1

2 Arkansas State 3-0

 

Rugby East Conference

 

1 Navy 3-0

2 Army 3-0

 

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