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D1A Rugby semifinal: Cal edges SMC 28-24 on a last second play

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Bears will play the winner of Lindenwood/Life from Santa Clara next Saturday.

Troy Lockyear and the Golden Bears are hoping to beat SMC again
Cal Varsity Rugby (Al Sermeno, KLF fotos)

LIVE-ISH UPDATES FROM DURING THE GAME:

Cal 28, SMC 24 is your final score from Moraga!

80’ - Bears win! Bears win!

Sam Cusano gets the game winning try to put the Bears in the 2019 D1A Rugby 15s championship final next week in Santa Clara! Sam gets free on the outside (after some fine Cal ball movement under pressure) and scores the game winning try in the second half stoppage time for the win.

Check out that play below:

Cusano was the Bear that jumped on the conversion try (totally unnecessary too), but redeemed himself here in a big way.

77’ - SMC with an abundance of opportunities and finally got through after a Cal “forward pass” turned the ball over. The try was to the corner, so the conversion is no good. SMC actually got a 2nd chance at the kick, and they found a way to make it. That’s a big re-do.

SMC 24-21

69’ - SMC has a try in front of them to go ahead, but a ball mishandle to turn the ball over. Phew.

60’ - Water break as we enter the last “quarter” of this match.

58’ - SMC gets a much needed try (from Murphy). Conversion (a gimme) is good.

Cal’s lead is now down to 21-17. This match is not over yet.

55’ - Both sides have had chances in the open field on a counter, but no score changes.

51’ - The SMC scoring chance is suddenly stopped by a Christian Dyer steal. With a 2 on 1 chance, Dyer throws the ball away on a bad pass.

45’ - SMC knocking on the door early in the 2nd half to try to get back in this match. But Cal scrum pushes on the SMC scrum at the right time that the flanker drops the ball and Bears get it via a turnover.

Of course, Bears turn the ball over right away, but Cal freshman Poon with a great try saving tackle. SMC is again kept out of the try zone.

FIRST HALF

40’ - Sam Walsh with the try and conversion! Just when it looks like the home Gaels are going to possibly get another score, Bears are able to get the ball back with one last try to score before the half (in extra time). A nice move is made by the freshman Sam Walsh in open space, and he is in the try zone.

21-10 Bears at the half!

38’ - Cal has a chance to go up another try but turns the ball over deep in SMC territory. Gaels seizes the opportunity to counter attack. They get a 5-meter scrum and quickly turns that into a try and conversion. Big change of momentum here in the past 5 minutes, unfortunately.

14-10 Bears

26’ - A methodical drive by the Bears. Cusano and Wiley have some decent sized runs, but it is Sam Golla who earns the try. Conversion is good again from Walsh!

14-3 Bears!

24’ - SMC nearly get the game tying try, but the ref rules a knock-on just outside the zone. Bears catches a break with another Gaels penalty to kick the ball away.

20’ - Cal Bears are on the scoreboard. Jack Manzo earns the try after several Bears each inching the ball forward. Walsh’s conversion is good.

7-3 Bears!

14’ - SMC kicks a penalty (from decent distance away...not a gimme) and it’s good.

3-0 Gaels.

9’ - All SMC Gaels in the first 8 minutes but the Golden Bears keeps them out with both heart, grit, and some luck?

Cal Starting Lineup:

Walsh got the start over Webb in this one. Not much surprises elsewhere.


Cal is back in the 2019 CRC

First of all, a news update on Cal Rugby’s 7s plan for 2019. Bears’ season will extend until the first weekend of June as the Golden Bears will return to the Collegiate Rugby Championship in 2019 after one year absence. Cal has won 5 straight CRC titles from 2013-2017 before not participating in 2018 when NBC dropped out as a sponsor for that tournament (the matches are now on ESPN networks on cable rather than the national NBC channel).

I believe the plan is for the There is the opportunity for the Bears to play in both the D1A Rugby 7s championship AND the CRC - so effectively shots at two different College Rugby 7s championships in 2019 - a double that was achieved by Lindenwood in 2018 when they beat Cal in the D1A Rugby 7s final and beat UCLA in the CRC 7s final.

[Updated on 4/27/2019] The official Cal Bears dot com schedule now no longer list the D1A Rugby 7s championship in Tucson on the schedule. I guess Cal will focus on just one 7s championship and prefer the contest that gives them more time to prep.

You know who else will be playing at the 2019 CRC for the first time, St. Mary’s College Gaels. It would certainly be something if Cal and SMC meet at the CRC from Chester, PA (just outside Philadelphia). In fact, all 4 D1A Rugby 15s semifinalists - Cal, SMC, Life, and Lindenwood will all participate in the 2019 CRC.


More about Cal vs. SMC in Rugby 15s today

But before we get there, college rugby fans will get to watch Cal take on SMC for the 2nd time this season in Rugby 15s. Cal won 29-19 in Berkeley a month plus ago.

Use the comment section below to discuss this match, if you’re watching at home rather than from Moraga. I am planning to try something new and live update this post with my comments.

Cal has already announced that several lineup changes will be made from that of the Arizona quarterfinal match. Expect to see a starting lineup closer to that of the SMC regular season finale match.

Cal will likely make six or more lineup changes for Saturday’s semifinal compared the XV who started in the quarterfinal against the Wildcats. Senior loosehead prop Jack Iscaro and sophomore hooker Jack Manzo return to the front row, joining junior tighthead prop Damon Wiley. In the second row, where the Bears have selected from strength this spring, freshman Max Murphy is anticipated to pair with junior Sebastian Bader, who returns. The back row will be anchored by senior captain Nic Mirhashem at one flanker, but is thereafter uncertain, with sophomore Sam Golla pushing for a start following his outstanding play in a reserve role.

In the backline for the Bears, freshman halfback Henry Poon or junior Ken Kurihara will service freshman Sam Walsh or senior Elliot Webb at flyhalf. Center selections are among juniors Keanu Andrade and Christian Dyer, and sophomore Adam Roeske. Junior Sam Cusano looks certain at right wing, while sophomore Marcus Shankland is expected to return on the left wing. Senior Troy Lockyear is projected at fullback.

The 2nd semifinal between Life and Lindenwood will follow the Cal vs. SMC match on the CBS Sports Network (and FloRugby online for $12.50 per month), scheduled for 2:30 pm PT.


D1A Rugby 15 semifinal: Cal (17-1) vs. SMC (18-1)

Where: Saint Mary’s Stadium (Moraga, CA)

When: 12 pm PT on Saturday, April 27th, 2019

TV: CBS Sports Network

Online: FloRugby

GO BEARS!