UCLA Hopes to Keep Cal Game Close

Photo: Senior wing Blaine Scully scored two tries in the first half of  the Bears' 53-5 trouncing of UCLA on Jan. 16 in the Pac-10 Tournament.
Shannon Hamilton/File
Senior wing Blaine Scully scored two tries in the first half of the Bears' 53-5 trouncing of UCLA on Jan. 16 in the Pac-10 Tournament.

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In its three league matches, the Cal rugby team has outscored its opponents, 245-14. When the Bears faced UCLA on Jan. 15, however, they outscored the Bruins by just two points.

That's not to say UCLA has coach Jack Clark's number - Cal cruised to victory in its subsequent meeting with the Bruins a day later.

Clark's club expects its third match against the Bruins on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Los Angeles to more closely resemble their second battle than the first.

"I think we're the better team," Clark said. "We just have to play like the better team."

In their first meeting on Jan. 15, Clark trotted out a young lineup in order to rest his starters. The match was the Bears' sixth contest of the day at the Dennis Storer Classic. Cal's heavy-hitters had just won what was anticipated to be the most challenging match of the tournament, defeating Utah 34-0.

Considering the score differential, that ended up being the Bears' toughest match of the tournament. UCLA jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first half, to which Cal responded with two tries. The Bruins pulled within two points with a second-half try, but failed to make the conversion kick to tie the game. The Bears (19-0, 3-0 in the CPD) skirted the upset, 14-12.

Cal's veterans, with some younger guys mixed in, got another crack at UCLA the next day. The Bears ran away with a 53-5 victory.

"We had a tough time in the final game at (the tournament) as we allowed them to run at us and did not make individual tackles," Bruins coach Scott Stewart said in an email. "One-on-one tackling has to be a priority in any rugby game, and Cal makes you pay if you fail in this area."

UCLA may be looking back to its last game against Cal to prepare for this weekend. The Bears meanwhile are more focused on their last set of games - two wins over British Columbia and divisional foe Central Washington last weekend - as a basis for improvement.

"One of the things we were not so happy with ourselves about over the weekend was we weren't physical enough in our tackles and in the rucks," freshman Jason Fry said.

Saturday's match will again feature a mixed lineup, with a few starters seeing time against the Bruins. Some others will see action in Sunday's noon tilt against the Claremont Colleges at Linde Athletic Field in Claremont, Calif.

Even with younger players taking the field, Asbun sees Saturday's match going differently than the first one against the Bruins.

"Some players that hadn't gotten time before that tournament have gotten more time now," Asbun said. "We open up our menu in terms of what we do as a team, and people's fitness is coming along. Everyone's just kind of developing."


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