GRR on X  GRR on Facebook GRR in Instagram GRR Vimeo Library GRR on YouTube RuggaMatrix America Podcasts Support GRR on Patreon

Cal Storms to Lead, Holds It Against Navy

irish rugby tours

Cal Storms to Lead, Holds It Against Navy

Cal huddles up.

Cal defeated Navy 47-24 Saturday in Berkeley, handing Navy their first loss of this season, and in fact their first loss since April 10, 2022 when they lost in the D1A playoffs.

The Golden Bears built a 24-0 lead in the first half, but back-to-back tries by the Mids made it a 10-point game at 48 minutes.

“We are obviously very disappointed in our performance,” said Navy Director of Rugby Gavin Hickie. “We simply were not good enough today and lost to a better team.”

“We appreciate the Navy team, they have been on a significant run of well-earned victories and success. They are a well put together team,” Cal head coach Jack Clark said. “I loved how determined our boys were today. We took our share of the lumps, but we fronted the challenge.”

Bears Out of the Blocks

The Bears and the Mids traded possession over the first 10 minutes with neither team lighting up the scoreboard. Cal was on the attack and worked its way to five meters out from the goal-line. The forwards grinded out a couple of attacking phases before scrumhalf Solomon Williams swung it out to Joe Kirsten on the right wing who shot right into in-goal with a score for the Bears. Kealan O’Connell converted to make it 7-0 and give Cal a lead it would never relinquish.

Williams added his name to the scoresheet just five minutes later when he stepped his way past a few Navy defenders for the Bears’ second try of the day, and O’Connell added the extras. A few minutes later, the Bears then were awarded a penalty and opted for points off a penalty kick conversion to make it 17-0 in favor of Cal.

Eight minutes passed before the next scoring phase when Bears won an attacking lineout and Williams received the ball from Cal’s jumper. He spotted a small gap between the Navy defense and took off running for Mids territory. He made it well past the 22 and offloaded to Hugo Schreuder, who carried it in for the try. O’Connell converted and it was 24-0.

Navy drove into Cal's 22 twice over the next six minutes, but Cal made a pair of key defensive plays to negate both scoring chances. As the Mids were driving near the five-meter line, the Golden Bears held up the ball carrier to force a turnover. Navy later had the ball less than a meter from the tryline, but Cal jarred it loose, forcing a knock-on.

Defending their own tryline again, Navy was able to force a turnover. From there loose forward Ben Haugh slipped out of a tackle and then delivered a perfect pass to Austin Taylor, who sprinted up the middle for about 35 meters before linking with Max Smith. Smith sidestepped his way past several tacklers. He was finally dragged down but Jake Cornelius was there to pick up and dive over. Roanin Krieger converted and it was 24-7 at halftime.

The Inevitable Response

After the break, Navy made their way into scoring position and tried to pick-and-jam in for another score, but Cal’s defense remained solid and denied the Mids another try at the goalline. A few minutes later, Navy was back in the Bears’ territory. Avion Ganse gained back a big chunk of ground on a counter and then powerful runs from Tanner Russell and Krieger moved the ball back inside five-meters. Haugh then dove between two defenders to score, and with Krieger’s conversion it was 24-14 and Navy was well and truly back in it.

After the restart, Cal was awarded another penalty and took points off O’Connell’s boot. Navy put up a penalty of their own a few minutes later, but the Bears answered quickly with Mack Fell finding the tryline and Cal now was ahead three scores at 32-17. This was a crucial period for Cal as they started to press their advantage.

Evan Weigold raced in on the left wing and from the restart the Bears recovered and swung it out to Kirsten on the right side. He turned on the jets and outran the Navy defenders to carry in his second try of the day and two Cal tries in two minutes. That was the body blow from which Navy would not recover. It was 42-17 and there was just too much to do.

A Cal knock-on off the next restart resulted in a Navy scrum and from there Krieger powered his way through three defenders to score from 22 meters. He converted, notching his 14th point of the game and making it 174 points for the season, surpassing Lewis Gray's previous Navy best of 166.

Cal had the final say, though, with Oliver Newall finding space and outrunning all of Navy’s defenders to carry in one more try for the Bears.

Clearly Cal has learned from their losses to BYU and Army and have once again turned the tables.—tellingly, all but one Cal try was scored by the backs For Navy, a loss isn't at all the end of the world, and perhaps it is fuel for a team that, as we said, hadn't lost in almost two years.

Next up for Cal is a formidable Saint Mary's team that just beat BYU in Provo. The 13-1 Navy Midshipmen now face Penn State next week.

Cal 47
Tries: Kirsten 2, Williams, Schreuder, Fell, Weigold, Newall
Convs: O'Connell 3
Pens: O'Connell 2

Navy 24
Tries: Cornelius, Haughm Krieger
Convs: Krieger 3
Pens: Krieger