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Cal Wins Scrum Axe With Ease

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Cal Wins Scrum Axe With Ease

Report from Cal Rugby – Using a completely new lineup, with 10 frosh-sophs in the Starting XV and a stream of underclassmen among the reserves, the Golden Bears rang up 12 tries to defeat Stanford, 78-3, Wednesday night on Witter Rugby Field in the 109th year of the annual match for the Scrum Axe.

Freshman Zachary Tavenner and sophomores Edward Tandy and Beau Hershberger were multi-try scorers for California (7-1, 1-0 PAC), which got 17 points from sophomore flyhalf Jamie Howells (one try, 6-of-9 conversions) and nine from his freshman replacement, Matthew Coyle (3-of-3 conversions).

The Cardinal (4-3) got their points off the foot of fullback Sam Falkenhagen, who connected on a 38-meter penalty kick (1-of-3) in the 34th minute to avert a shutout as the Bears won their 20th straight match against Stanford (19 in regular season and one in postseason) dating back to the Cardinal’s last win over Cal in 1996.

With the lion’s share of possession came a fair share of miscues as the young Rugby Bears sought fluidity against a determined Cardinal side, with penalties, knocks and drops that reflected the breadth of game clock that Cal had the ball in hand. In the second stanza, the Blue and Gold improved their discipline and were less penalized than Stanford while taking better care of their possessions.

“The first half was pretty sloppy but we stuck to it and in the second half kept our shape better,” said Howells. The reserves played well when they came on.”

“Despite some errors, we came together as a team and it’s what we like to see,” agreed Tandy. “It’s great to see our younger players get some time and step up. We’re still trying to build our cohesion.”

Together, the largely underclassmen lineup kept the Cardinal on the back foot, kept Stanford from scoring any tries on the evening and kept their collective foot on the gas, evidenced by five tries scored in the final 20 minutes.

Stanford coach Matt Sherman said, “When you know you’re going to be under severe amounts of pressure, there’s a lot of stress that comes with that situation. Today we continued to fight back and though we fell off especially the last 20 minutes, it wasn’t because of a lack of effort.”

One more match remains in the current homestand as Cal continues PAC Rugby Conference play Saturday, Feb. 14, at 1 p.m. against Arizona State on Witter Rugby Field. After that, the Bears will hit the road for one week to continue PAC play at UCLA on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 1 p.m., then return to Strawberry Canyon, where Cal hosts California Maritime at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25, before celebrating Homecoming against Utah on Witter Rugby Field at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 28.

The Scoring Timeline vs. Stanford

06:00 Eakalafi Okusi 5, Jaime Howells 2

15:00 Jamie Howells 5, 2

21:00 Edward Tandy 5

34:00 Stanford (Sam Falkenhagen) 3

36:00 Tomas Zerbino 5, Jaime Howells 2

Halftime Score: California 26, Stanford 3

44:00 Edward Tandy 5

53:00 Zachary Tavenner 5, Jamie Howells 2

59:00 Zachary Tavenner 5

63:00 Billy Maggs 5, Jamie Howells 2

71:00 Beau Hershberger 5, Jamie Howells 2

74:00 Matt Ternan 5, Matthew Coyle 2

76:00 Beau Hershberger 5, Matthew Coyle 2

80:00 Schuyler Whiting 5, Matthew Coyle 2

Final Score: California 78, Stanford 3