World Cup Victory Highlights Bears' Northwest Jaunt

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The Cal rugby team defeated yet another divisional foe on Saturday to maintain its perfect overall and league record. But that match was not the highlight of the Bears' trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Prior to Saturday's defeat of Central Washington in Ellensburg, Wash., Cal played the second leg of the World Cup against British Columbia in Vancouver.

The Bears' 54-18 victory on Thursday gave Cal its fifth consecutive World Cup title.

"No season feels complete without winning this great contest," senior flyhalf James Bailes said.

Coach Jack Clark's squad entered the match with a slim eight-point advantage in the two-game World Cup battle after a tight 21-13 victory over the Thunderbirds on Feb. 19. Outplayed in the first half of that game, the Bears made a dramatic second-half comeback to win the first leg.

At Thunderbird Stadium on Thursday, the first half was very similar to the teams' previous meeting, with UBC setting the tone.

The Bears nearly took a deficit into halftime for the second time this season, but were saved by a converted try by freshman Paul Bosco to end the half with a 14-13 lead.

"We were really struggling with poor kicking, turnovers in contact," Clark said. "Being up a point at halftime was a pretty big relief knowing that we hadn't played that well and knowing that we were still within touch."

Bailes said it was Clark's halftime speech that turned the match around, allowing the Bears to make needed in-game adjustments.

The difference between the halves was marked by Cal's better care of the ball and overall toughness in play.

"Rugby's one of those games that just playing hard, playing your guts out will take care of those problems," Clark said. "The tide kind of changed. We were now the team putting on the pressure."

Within the frame's first 20 minutes, Cal (19-0, 3-0 in the CPD) notched four unanswered tries, and Bailes converted all four. He posted a 7-for-8 rate, only missing on the Bears' eighth and final try.

It wasn't until the 69th minute that UBC got on the scoreboard in the second half with an unconverted try.

Following Thursday's thrashing of the Thunderbirds, Cal's regular starters earned rest on Saturday, and watched their less experienced teammates take on Central Washington.

The result was similar - a large margin of victory in a 44-14 win- but it was a far cry from a repeat of Thursday's performance. The Bears only outscored the Wildcats 10-7 in the second half.

Cal managed seven tries in the game, two each from sophomore inside center Jared Braun and freshman fullback Jake Anderson.

Despite some solid individual performances, Clark said the Cal team on the field "underachieved" as a whole, diagnosing tackling as being the main problem.

"I thought we were a little bit grabby," Clark said. "That made it more of a contest than it should have been."


Christina Jones covers rugby. Contact her at [email protected]

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