The big school rivalry between Cal Poly and UCSB lived up to expectations when the Mustangs traveled down to Santa Barbara last Friday night for their preseason match against the Gauchos. In cold conditions in front of a vocal UCSB crowd, both teams came out firing with some big tackles and solid collisions at the breakdown.
The first try of the night came from a big Gauchos scrum five meters out from Poly’s line. As the ball spilled out the side of the scrum the UCSB scrum half was johnny on the spot for the pick up and dive over the line. Only a few minutes after the restart Poly had their chance for a rebuttal with an attacking lineout inside the Gauchos quarter. A clean take by Bobby McNeal and a strong hit up by outside centre Jake Gersh up the centre of the field put the Poly attack on the front foot. A swift cut back on the second phase saw captain Dave Schaefer, too hard to stop, as he ran towards the goal posts.
Poly’s second try came fairly soon after when fly half Matt Verga punched a kick from inside his own half down towards the corner flag. A determined sprint by Cody Perez and lucky bounce of the ball found the winger in possession only meters from the try. A quick recycle by the Poly support players saw inside centre Andy Early pick and drive his way over the line.
Leading 14-10 at the break Cal Poly started the second half well with continued pressure at breakdown and quick ball movement out wide. That pressure was converted into points when a strong fend and offload by Jake Gersh found Dave Schaefer in support and through for his second try of the night.
After a try a piece to both teams, a determined UCSB put the pressure back on the visitors late in the second half with numerous phases inside Poly’s quarter. Only gutsy defense and some solid counter rucking kept the score still until the last few minutes of the game when Mustang scrum half Alex Frost pounced on some loose ball at the back of a UCSB scrum and ran 20 meters to the try line. Final score Cal Poly 31 – UCSB 17.
All in all a it was a very physical encounter, with some solid passages of play by both teams.
The B side match was just a physical as the A side match but much closer in the score line. The lead went back and forth throughout the match until the final minute when Cal Poly had a penalty within kicking distance. Down by a point, Poly needed the kick for the win. A clean strike by freshman fly half Scott Health gave a jubilant B side the win. Cal Poly B 22 – UCSB B 20.
Cal Poly now travel to Mesquite Nevada to meet the University of Utah who were ranked 6th in last seasons College Premier Division. This match will no doubt be the Mustangs toughest challenge so far this season, but is a game all players are certainly looking forward to.