This weekend, the Cal Poly Mustangs will travel to Salt Lake City, Utah to take on the University of Utah in the opening round of the USA Rugby D1A Playoffs. The boys have been very focused at practice of late, and it showed in the 48-7 performance against San Diego State last weekend. Coach James Tesoriero has his account below.
Thank you to those of you who made it for Parents and Alumni weekend!
with Head Coach James Tesoriero
Saturday marked a number of ‘final’ milestones for the 2015 season. We played our final D1a conference match, it was the final home game of the season, and 7 seniors played their final home matches at Cal Poly. In addition, we welcomed a large cohort of former players for the annual Alumni game, and Saturday night we held the Parents & Alumni Dinner, so it was a day of great significance in many ways.
The Alumni vs Cal Poly Veterans match kicked off first up, with the ‘old boys’ matched against a collection of our more senior current players. We were warned ahead of time the old boys would be fielding a very talented team, and would be ‘coming in hot’! The Alumni didn’t disappoint, leading for the entire match and posting a comfortable win, turning back the clock and entertaining a considerable crowd on the hill. The Poly team were competitive however, and kept the Alumni honest for 80 minutes. This game featured a Father/Son play head-to-head (The Lowe’s on opposite wings) and Father/Son teammates (the Nunno’s). There was also much grumbling from the Alumni group about how much the jerseys had shrunk (particularly around the waist) since the guys graduated years ago.
The 2nd XV had a very different look from previous weeks, with many regular 2nd teamers playing against the Alumni in the early game. This provided an opportunity for some younger and less experienced guys to prove themselves against a talented opposition in the form of San Diego State 2nd XV. The match was a grind in the opening period, with our team in control yet unable to post points. Points came towards the end of the first half, and again after the break. SDSU competed throughout and crossed our line a number of times, however we kept a points buffer throughout and recorded a relatively comfortable win. Grant Beadle, who gets better with every game, was electric from halfback. Sal Guevara was a standout at flanker, while Eric Martin was dangerous on the edges and Dan Dempster was solid at fly half.
The 1st side were entirely ‘up’ and motivated for their final D1a game, aware that SDSU would be playing to keep their season alive and would enter the game with great intensity. We had scouted SDSU thoroughly during the week and had a good feel for their strengths and vulnerabilities. Our top team has played brilliant stretches of throughout the season, although with the Playoffs a week away, had not yet played 80 minutes of consecutive great rugby. This was our goal for the match.
As expected SDSU started strongly, broke our line on a few occasions, and posted the first try in the 15th minute. We gradually wrestled control of the match, largely on the back of a very dominant scrum. ‘Try sneak’ Matt Ryan crossed for our first try in the 24th minute, followed shortly after by another to Chris Codding. When John Joe crossed at the stroke of halftime, we had SDSU on the ropes at 17-7.
During the halftime break we reaffirmed our commitment to bringing 80 minutes of intensity and quality play, and to continue to pressure the opponents. In the second half, our forward pack well and truly gained ascendency on the opposition, gaining meters through midfield, and absolutely bullying the SDSU pack at the scrum. Scrum dominance allowed the backline to throw the ball around with the knowledge that a dropped ball would bring another scrum, and likely more possession.
As the afternoon progressed, the Alumni on the hill cheered louder and were treated to spectacular play from the home team. We played out the 80 minutes as hoped, and delivered our best performance of the year, finishing comfortable 48-7 winners against a very capable and talented San Diego outfit. The entire forward pack was outstanding, both in set piece and around the park, laying a superb platform for halves Chris Codding and Keli’i Dominguez to dictate play.
This strong form is timely, with an elimination Playoff vs Utah in Salt Lake City next Saturday 18th April. No 6 ranked Utah will present a very difficult challenge, however our form, fitness and motivation levels are peaking at the right time, and we will give ourselves every chance of progressing to Quarter-Final the following weekend.
Finally, thanks to the parents and alumni for getting behind Saturday night’s dinner, and a special thanks to those who donated items, bought auction prizes, and bought drinks throughout the evening.
1st XV Cal Poly 48 def SDSU 7
3 Points- Keli’i Dominguez
2 Points- John Joe Murphy
1 Point- Nathan Sylvia
– Connor Cudeback
2nd XV Cal Poly 31 def SDSU 17
3 Points- Grant Beadle
2 Points- Salvador Guevara
1 Point- Eric Martin
3rd XV Cal Poly Alumni def Cal Poly Veterans
3 Points- Phil Bezouska
2 Points- Dylan Lynch
1 Point- Zach Markow