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Golden Nuggets: Cal Battles British Columbia in the Opening Round of the World Cup

Cal fought off its rival UBC to take a nine-point advantage into next month's second round.

A few days after annihilating its rival across the Bay, Cal Rugby faced its other rival in the opening round of the World Cup. Cal took a 15-point lead into halftime, but a strong second half from UBC closed the gap to 9.

UBC outside center Nate Rees scored two tries for the visitors as the T-Birds (12-1) suffered their first loss of the year. California (8-0) now carries a nine-point advantage into the rematch in Thunderbird Stadium March 23 in Vancouver, where Cal will attempt to win the two-match series decided by total points in both matches.

"The whole UBC outfit played really well but to our guys, a really courageous performance," said captain Seamus Kelly. "The guys up front that needed to put up a big performance really stepped up and played well. It was a team win in the full sense of the word."

Jack Clark was pleased with his team's performance.

"It was a really brave victory and it’s hard to express how appreciative I am of the effort our boys put in. We played really hard," said head coach Jack Clark. "When you put your hand up for selection in this match, you’re asking for responsibility and I think team really delivered. With the exception of a few moments we played fantastic defense. We read what was before us in attack well, which resulted in some big tackles and the two intercepts by Jared. We have some inexperience and new roles in the forwards, but they battled hard and collectively had some big moments."

The UBC staff was also impressed by relatively young Cal team.

"I’ve got a lot of respect for the Cal program and its athletes. They were excellent," said UBC head coach Ramses Langston.

"Maybe it wasn’t the most experienced Cal forward pack but they’re still a really big and physical pack, no matter what happens," added T-Birds general manager Spence McTavish.

Cal faces UBC again on Sunday March 23rd.

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