Win Over Chico State
November 12, 2016
By: Christian Portillo
MORAGA, CALIF. - The Saint Mary’s Men’s Rugby team picked up right where they left off last year in their first preseason match of the year against Chico State. Playing right after the C Side played Santa Rosa Junior College to a 24-24 standstill before the official called the game, the Gaels never skipped a beat, scoring two converted tries within the opening five minutes of the match.
Tommy Wallace sprinted down the left sideline for a try before Kevin O’Connor managed to score a try of his own to give the Gaels a 28-0 lead. Wallace broke through Chico State’s defense and offloaded the ball to Alejandro Duran, who took it to the house for a 38-0 advantage. Jack Carso also passed to Holden Yungert for a converted try on the left sideline moments later to give the Gaels a 45-0 lead. Before the half, Saint Mary’s scored two more tries to lead 55-0. You could not put your head down for one second without missing a Saint Mary’s try.
The Gaels already looked in midseason form in the first preseason game. There was excellent communication throughout the first half in addition to lots of fluid movement. Although they put on an offensive clinic, it was not like they were slacking on defense either. They made solid, fundamental tackles and did not give Chico State much room to breathe.
Lineouts have always been one area that Saint Mary’s can improve in. After a tipped lineout pass was recovered by Saint Mary’s, Alejandro Duran took a pass and absolutely burst through the defense. A few plays later, Duran was the one initiating the action instead of finishing it. The Illinois native was on the left sideline and crisply passed the ball, and after one more sharp pass, Tommy Wallace was in the try zone.
Saint Mary’s scored three more tries before Chico State was presented with their first scoring opportunity. They attempted a penalty goal from a decent distance and as luck would have it, the ball directly hit the right goalpost, which shook for a couple of seconds from the impact.
The aforementioned top-five team in the country will travel to UC Santa Cruz next Saturday, November 19, to play the Banana Slugs at 12:00 P.M. The Gaels will look to keep their high level of play up with their constant communication, solid defensive principles, and another scoring explosion. If the way they played against Chico State is an indication of how they will play in the regular season, Saint Mary’s fans are in for a special treat.