In a gripping Championship final the Cal Poly Mustangs went down to a spirited St Mary’s College side in the final stages of the match. Cal Poly took an early lead into the half time break but the Gael’s stage a fight back to take the game and the tournament 35-19.
It was a beautiful day at the Talley Fields just outside Arroyo Grande, where 14 teams from nine different colleges came together for the second annual West Coast Rugby 7s Invitational. Cal Poly had three teams competing in tournament, Rugby 7s Captain Landis Nasser couldn’t be happier with how the new ruggers represented Cal Poly. “It was awesome to get so many new guys out on the pitch, there was some great Rugby played today” said Nasser.
All teams played three games each in the pool stages of the tournament. Cal Poly 1 went through 3-0 with wins against Cal State Long Beach, Santa Clara 2 and Santa Rosa JC. Cal Poly 2 had a tougher run through the pool stages managing just one win against Santa Clara 1, and losses to Arizona State and St Mary’s 1. The Mustangs 3rd team in the tournament also went through 1-2 through the pools.
On the same side of the schedule as Cal Poly 1, Cal also went through their pool matches without a loss, but the Mustangs held a superior try differential over the Bears to finish as the number 1 seed. The top seed on the other side of the schedule was St Mary’s who defeated UCLA, Cal Poly 2 and Arizona State. Even with their loss to St Mary’s, ASU’s try and points differential in the pool matches was good enough to give them the second seed going into the championship playoffs.
The first championship semi final saw Cal Poly 1 take on Arizona State side, and second was an east bay showdown between the Gaels and the Bears.
Arizona State came out firing against the Mustangs and took a 10 nil lead with a converted try and drop goal within the first few minutes of the match. A composed Cal Poly side lead by Captain Landis Nasser got themselves back in the game with some great support play and offloads in contact. Cal Poly took the match 24-15, and spot in the Championship final.
The other semi final played out as expected, a fight to the last whistle. Cal took 12-7 lead into the second half, but St Mary’s scored two late tries and secured the win 17-12.
As it was in last season’s Championship final, Cal Poly would meet St Mary’s for the 2012 title. The Mustangs started well with Landis Nasser scoring a length of the field try after being set up with a beautiful switch by center Max Tacket. But as Cal Poly have learnt the hard way in the past, you can’t give the Gaels a sniff. From the restart of play St Mary’s Garrett Brewer spot a half gap and broke free to run 80m and level the scores. Another try to Nasser and hooker Andy Early gave the Mustangs a 19-7 lead at the break. As any top class team does, St Mary’s came back with a punch and scored four unanswered tries to win the game, and their second West Coast 7s title in as many years, 35-19. “It was frustrating to have St Mary’s on their heals only to let the lead slip in the second half.” Nasser said after the match. “It was a good first showing for the season, but its exciting to know we can build on this in the upcoming tournaments this fall”.
In other final matches of the tournament, Santa Clara beat Cal Poly 3rds 22-12 in the Bowl final and Cal 2nds were too good for UCLA, winning the Plate final 19-7.
Next weekend the Mustangs will be heading north for the Stanford 7s. If you are in the bay area don’t miss another Saturday of quality college rugby 7s.