(Moraga, Calif.) Saturday’s match between two of the college game’s perennial top five masked the best of St. Mary’s while revealing something more of Cal.
Cutting to the chase, the visitors fell behind 14-10 just before the hour, but stayed with the plan to run out 27-14 winners, five tries to two.
Taking their first lead through a penalty try, the Gaels seemed to play much as they might have any other Saturday. Atrocious weather stymied their efforts.
Whereas the Bears, resolutely kicking behind the SMC’s line, measured the occasion well. Amid soggy footing and second-half downpours, there was no way for the counterattack through Cal's pursuit, spread four, five, and sometimes six players across.
To be sure, both sides made any number of errors. The hosts may have enjoyed the balance of prime scoring opportunities. At least three superb chances misfired at the touchline: rainy weather indeed.
By contrast, in one of the many elaborations which helps Cal stay on top, the Bears manned both sidelines with a reservist carrying a towel for drying the ball. Their lineouts, notably in their own end, were adequate.
Match conditions are rarely perfect but generally anticipable. The past decade we have heard much about the benefits of better training. Saturday evidenced the effects of planning.
Cal 27 St. Mary’s 14 (halftime: Cal 10-0)
Tries: Evan Coleman (2), Harry Adolphus, George Vrame, Nicklas Boyer
Conversion: Russell Webb
Tries: Dylan Audsley, penalty
Conversions: Dylan Audsley (2)
Referee: Pete Smith (Northern California)
Attendance: 800 (estimated)