MORAGA, Calif. – No. 1 California ended its regular season Saturday with a loss at Saint Mary’s, 55-31, as the Golden Bears’ four tries could not match the eight scored by the Gaels on Pat Vincent Field.
Cal earned the run of play for much of the afternoon but was too often left chasing the Gaels after mutli-phase sequences by the Bears were countered effectively by St. Mary’s, which proved patient on defense and ready to capitalize on opportunities following Cal miscues that came in the form of dropped balls, errant passes and ill-timed kicks, many of which occurred as the Bears were knocking on the door to score.
“We gave up a half-dozen lightning-strike-quick tries that mostly came from transition moments, most from 50 meters out,” said head coach Jack Clark.
Gaels winger Nick Schlobohm had a hat trick and SMC flyhalf Garrett Brewer scored twice, with inside center Dylan Audsley connecting on 6-of-8 conversions and 1-of-2 penalty kicks to account for 15 of the home side’s points as Saint Mary’s moved to 14-1 (5-0 conf.) on the season.
For the Bears (16-2, 5-0 PAC), a penalty kick in the 10th minute by Jake Anderson (1-1) was the only scoring for the Blue and Gold before captain Seamus Kelly’s try trimmed the SMC lead to 28-10 at minute 38. Momentum for Cal was quickly hindered by a Gaels try by Kevin O’Connor right before halftime.
Down 23 points and forced into their second straight come-from-behind scenario against the Gaels, having rebounded to win after trailing at the break by 15 points in 2013, the Bears got second-half tries from Andrew Battaglia, Harry Adolphus and Nicklas Boyer, and Anderson made all three of his conversion attempts (3-for-3) with a fourth conversion added by Russell Webb (1-of-1). But St. Mary’s kept pace in the second stanza with three more tries of their own to avert any comeback and win their second straight match at home against Cal.
“They did a good job in defense and getting off the line but too often we let them off the hook,” said Kelly. “We weren’t able to stay patient enough when we were taking them through the phases and all the pressure was on them. When we did do that, we hurt them, but our execution wasn’t consistent.”
“Against a great Cal program we just want to play respectable rugby,” said Gaels head coach Tim O’Brien. “I think we did that today. We worked hard on our defense and patience paid off.”
Clark characterized the Gaels’ performance Saturday as “lethal” and the Bears’ effort “workmanlike. And listen, workmanlike is who we are at present,” he said. “We have Seamus and Alec Gletzer as All-America-caliber players, then we have good boys doing their best. Our recipe for beating Saint Mary’s, BYU and the other very best teams is difficult to execute. We just need to acknowledge our situation and stay at it over the balance of the season.”
In the reserve-grade contest following the First XV, Cal defeated the SMC reserves, 41-17.
The Rugby Bears will now proceed with their 2014 edition of April Drive to prepare for the April 19 Varsity Cup Super Regional, where Cal will face the winner of the April 12 first-round clash between UCLA and Oklahoma (see bracket here). Should the Bears advance, they will host an April 26 semifinal against Utah, Air Force or Central Washington on Witter Rugby Field.
The final of the Varsity Cup National Championships takes place Saturday, May 3, in Rio Tinto Stadium outside of Salt Lake City and will be televised live on NBC Sports Network. For tickets and other information, visit VarsityCup.us.
Following the finale of their 15s season, the Bears will return to Philadelphia May 31-June 1 for the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s, also to be broadcast by NBC Sports Network and NBC.
For CRC tickets, please make all purchases via http://www.usasevenscrc.com/tickets/cal.
The Scoring Timeline vs. Saint Mary's
04:00 SMC (Mike McCarthy) 5, (Dylan Audsley) 2
10:00 Jake Anderson 3
12:00 SMC (Garrett Brewer) 5, (Dylan Audsley) 2
30:00 SMC (Nick Schlobohm) 5, (Dylan Audsley) 2
33:00 SMC (Garrett Brewer) 5, (Dylan Audsley) 2
38:00 Seamus Kelly 5, Jake Anderon 2
40:00 SMC (Kevin O’Connor) 5
Halftime Score: Saint Mary's 33, California 10
57:00 SMC (Dylan Audsley) 3
62:00 SMC (Nick Schlobohm) 5
65:00 SMC (Nick Schlohbohm) 5, (Dylan Audsley) 2
69:00 SMC (Mark Bowers) 5, (Dylan Audsley) 2
Final Score: Saint Mary’s 55, California 31
The Team vs. Saint Mary's
15. Anderson, 14. Tucker (Adolphus @ 47:00), 13. Kelly (c), 12. Braun, 11. Battaglia, 10. Adolphus (Webb @ 47:00), 9. Bosco (Boyer @ 47:00), 1. Walsh (Mohr @ 63:00), 2. Mohr (Bush @ 63:00), 3. Vrame (Fry @ 76:00), 4. Kondrat, 5. Hendrickson (Bowman @ 76:00), 6. O'Beirne, 7. Gletzer, 8. De Nysschen