No Rest For Weary Bears As Swarming Hornets Aim to Set Witter Abuzz

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Just as most of the Cal rugby team prepares to sweat out its midterms in the classroom, it can at least take comfort in having aced a pair of toughies on the field.

Unlike school, however, the schedule leaves no time to coast.

After four games in eight days that included a pair of impressive, statement-making home wins over highly regarded Canadian foes Victoria and British Columbia, the Bears (8-0) need to stay focused as they face a strong opponent this week.

When Sacramento State comes to town on Saturday, Cal is going to be back in its customary seat of overwhelming favorite, but the ride should be rough this week.

"They have a very confident side and they've had some good results," head coach Jack Clark said, citing a win over St. Mary's and a close loss to powerful BYU. "They're quick to the ball and they're very tough."

As usual, the Bears' opponent will have plenty of fodder for motivation, as the Hornets are sure to remember the 36-0 home loss they were handed last year.

In this case, though, there are some extra feelings from the other side as well.

"We expect them to be fired up and play real hard," senior Eric Andersen said. "This is kind of a rivalry game because a lot of our guys are from the Sacramento area."

Last year's game clinched the top seed in the West regional of the national tournament for Cal, and the Bears are in the same position this week.

"It's a pivotal game for us because it guarantee us the right to host some tournament games," Clark said. "We don't want to have to get on a plane somewhere in the playoffs."

The current homestand is providing playoff-quality opposition for Cal, which is critical the team's goal of constant improvement.

"Quality opposition is very important," Clark said. "This team has an excellent scrumhalf, and they think a lot like us. They always try to attack off scrums and lineouts, and that can be dangerous."

There will be few secrets between the teams, since both teams have had ample chance to check out the opposition in local games, and Hornets' assistant coach John Riddering is a former Clark assistant.

"I imagine we'll be well-scouted ," Clark said. "But we're just going to execute what we do, and they'll have to try and stop us."

Asked if he was worried about a letdown after the high of beating traditional rival UBC, Clark responded anxiously.

"Absolutely. I'm Irish, I worry about everything," Clark said. "That's what I do. That said, the guys have worked very hard in practice, and were open to our evaluations."

Judging from his players' attitudes, the coach should rest easy.

"We're happy with the results from last week, but we need to improve a lot of things," Andersen said. "Our tackling wasn't great and we dropped too many balls. Hopefully, we'll have good hands this week and run all over them."


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