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Cal Clinches Top Spot With St Mary's Win

The University of California clinched the top spot in rugby’s Pacific Conference with a 60-34 victory over St Mary’s in Moraga Sunday. The physically bruising match was the first defeat for the Gaels in College Premier Division action and provided the Bears with a foretaste of post-season play.

California (22-0, 6-0) got off to a shaky start, yielding a penalty just two minutes into the match, setting up a three-pointer for Gaels (9-2, 4-1) fullback Max Heath. Bear flyhalf James Bailes then knotted the score two minutes later with his own penalty kick from 30 meters.


The scoring momentum continued when fullback Blaine Scully dotted down in minute seven, followed by a converted try in the 14th minute by winger Dustin Muhn, The scoreline moved to 15-3 favoring the Bears.


The Gaels answered with aggressive attacks, earning a try from No. 8 Joe Brophy’s run along the left side in the 22nd minute. With the scoreline narrowed to 15-8, a breakaway run by Gaels flyhalf Bubba Jones was cut short by a Derek Asbun high tackle which earned the Cal flanker a trip to the sin bin. Max Heath took advantage of the man-down situation to nab a converted score, tying the affair at 15-15.


Muhn and Bailes then added tries in the 35th and 40th minutes to put the Bears back on top by a dozen points for the halftime break.


If the Bears’ first-half start was shaky, the second frame opened with a rock-solid offensive salvo. California scored four unanswered tries -- three converted -- within 21 minutes, ratcheting the score to 53-15.


No. 8 Danny Barrett touched down twice, while flanker Tom Rooke and outside center Seamus Kelly added tries. James Bailes’ three conversions brought the tally to 53-15


The Gaels then went back to the offensive, led by Nick Wallace and Garrett Brewer who each scored converted tries in the 65th and 68th minutes, making the score 53-29.


Blaine Scully answered with a converted score -- his third of the day -- in the 72nd minute on a right side end run after a mauling push to the Gaels’ tryzone.


St Mary’s put the final punctuation mark on the match with an unconverted try by Andrew Cook four minutes before fulltime was whistled.


A reserve-grade contest followed the main event, ending with a 46-12 Cal win.  

Sunday’s win locks the No.1 position in the CPD’s Pacific Conference for the Bears, giving them home field advantage in a national quarterfinal face-off with the Mid-South Conference’s No. 2 side. At this point, Cal’s likely opponent in the May 7 is Arkansas State (7-0, 4-0).


The "home field" advantage is moot for the itinerent Bears while Witter Field is decommissioned for rugby. Venue really hasn't been a factor in CPD action.-- there's actually been a home field disadvantage of 3.7 percent this season.   

The Bears' final CPD match will be a April 23 contest against Cal Poly SLO in San Luis Obispo. An intervening scrimmage against Division 2 UC Santa Cruz is slated for Sunday, April 17.  The Bears will take a bye weekend before heading into the quarterfinal match.


In other CPD action this weekend:

Penn State edged Ohio State 22-17

Navy got by Kutztown 24-20

Arizona State shut out Wyoming 27-0

Life University trounced Notre Dame 56-3

Dartmouth squeezed by Rutgers 34-31

Army beat Delaware 40-13

Utah defeated Colorado 43-17

LSU whipped Oklahoma 38-5

BYU walloped Arizona 70-12

Arkansas State skunked Tennessee 70-23

Air Force gave it to Colorado State 46-10

UCLA handled Claremont 24-10

San Diego State routed UC Davis 45-19


The Top of the Tables - College Premier Division

Pacific Conference

1 - California (6-0)

2- St Mary’s (4-1)


Western Conference

1 - BYU (6-0)

2 - Arizona State (4-1)


Mid-South Conference

1 - Life University (4-1)

2 - Arkansas State (4-0)


Rugby East Conference

1 - Army (4-0)

2 - Navy (4-0)