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Long Beach Wins, USC Turns Heads

College Men

Long Beach Wins, USC Turns Heads

Cal State Long Beach came into the 2016 Gold Coast Conference season as defending champions, and with an eye, yet again, on a national title.

But the 49ers got a bit of a shock from lightly-regarded Southern California - Long Beach went on to win 24-17, but it wasn’t easy.

“USC is much improved,” said CSULB Head Coach Jason Reynolds. “I think they have better structure and coaching this year and are physical up front.”

That’s the truth. Longtime Santa Monica player and administrator Dominic Riebli has taken over as Director of Rugby and brought in Loa Milford to coach the team.

Riebli said he was initially upset that his Trojans would be Long Beach in the second week of the conference season. But in the end, it turned out fairly well.

The coaches didn’t think they had enough time to install all of their system, and, said Riebli, “unfortunately, we were right; we didn’t play our best. Fortunately (if such a thing exists in defeat), not playing our best translated to a 17-24 loss that came down to the final play of the match.”

CSULB started the game charging up the gut and that tactic produced a penalty that Steven Bodley duly slotted. But from the restart, the Trojans showed more confidence in attack, and center Center Joey Krassenstein powered through several tacklers to touch down for a 5-3 USC lead. 

The 49ers broke through from a scrum thanks in part to a miscommunication on defense by USC, and that led to a CSULB try by Devon Stone and, with Bodley's conversion, a 10-5 lead. The Trojans were also pinged with a yellow card for a high tackle.

But USC killed off the sin-bin time and just before halftime Long Beach was hit with a yellow card of their own. Up a man, the Trojans crashed up with the forwards and wing Connor Patenuade sped into the corner to tie the game 10-10 at halftime.

“We are young,” said Reynolds. “We gave away a lot of penalties in the forward pack, and that led directly to two USC tries.”

Long Beach made adjustments in the second have and scored two tries - Roland Blackiston and Jerell Aberella touching down and Bodley converting - to take a 24-10 lead. USC was able to get one back with a try for center Dmitry Veremeenko - a try where Reynolds said his team’s tackling left a lot to be desired - but that was as close as they got.

Considering last years CSULB v USC game was 80-10 for the 49ers, this was quite an improvement for Southern Cal. USC lock DeMarco Scavuzzo played superbly for the Trojans.

For Long Beach State, they struggled with new laws around the scrum, and have some work to do, but, added Reynolds, “overall I’m happy that with what this young team is doing and how physical they are being at the breakdowns, and with their tackling.”