The University of California fielded a squad of freshman and sophomores to take on Santa Rosa Junior College Thursday and walked off the pitch 80 minutes later with a hard-won 31-21 victory. Santa Rosa’s ruggers did not go down to defeat easily.
The Bears met a stout JC defense and an aggressive offense that twice knotted the score.
Cal relied upon the speed of first-year flanker Max Shaulis to dot down two first-half tries, both converted by sophomore flyhalf Andre Coquillard. Shaulis’ first try was a scamper down the right touchline following a push-back that put the Bears on the back foot behind their own 22-meter line.
Santa Rosa answered within four minutes with a converted try won after a pick-and-run. That set the stage for Shaulis’ second try two minutes later.
A swarming defense then kept the Bears tied up while the JC wrested another converted try in the 35th minute, tying the score at 14-14 for the half-time interval.
Five minutes into the second stanza, first-year center Josh Tucker nabbed the Bears’ third try of the evening which was subsequently converted by Coquillard.
Seven minutes later, Santa Rosa exploited a Bear turnover to waltz between the posts for an easily converted try that evened the score at 21-21.
Freshman flanker Will Turner then powered forward along the right side to score the go-ahead try. The kicking angle proved too steep for a Coquillard conversion, leaving the score at 26-21
Cal’s final, and unconverted, try was touched down by Tucker a minute later. Seventeen minutes of physically bruising battle ensued before fulltime was whistled.
Despite the win, Cal’s record remains at 21-0 overall and 5-0 in the College Premier Division. The match isn’t counted on the books because SRJC is a two-year Division 2 school.
Cal next visits St. Mary's College (9-1, 4-0) on Sunday, April 10 for a 1 p.m. kick-off. The Gaels, ranked #3 nationally, are the Pacific Conference’s second-place side.