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In a rematch of the final of four years ago, Cal repeated history winning its fifth-straight Penn Mutual College Rugby Championship over Life University, 19-0. The victory marks the Golden Bears’ 31st consecutive CRC win that began with the bronze final in 2012 against Life.
At Talen Energy Stadium, in Chester, Pa., the match was full of penalties and turnovers, but Cal was able to take advantage to win the game. The Golden Bears’ defense prevented the Running Eagles from even scratching at the try line. Wing Sam Cusano was named CRC MVP with two tries in the final and a total of five in the tournament.
The championship final began with Life receiving the kickoff. The Running Eagles tested the Cal defense swinging the ball from sideline to sideline. Harley Davidson looked to have found daylight, breaking tackles inside the 22, but a penalty stopped Life’s progress.
With possession, Cal’s Sam Cusano burst down the sideline, however Life’s defense stopped the wing at midfield. After a penalty and subsequent Cal scrum, Life caused a turnover then gave it back to Life. Possession continued to go back and forth as penalties kept tripping up both squads.
It wasn’t until the end of half that Cal found an opening for the match’s first points. After a yellow card to Zander van Schalkwyk for a dangerous tackle, Cal pounded at the goal line before sending the ball wide where Connor Sweet dove in for the try at the buzzer. Russell Webb connected on the conversion for the 7-0 halftime lead.
The second half began with Life kicking off to Cal, yet an attempted switch knocked the ball giving it to Life inside 40 meters. The Running Eagles worked the short side but Cal’s defense stifled the offense causing a not-releasing penalty. The Golden Bears quickly shot the ball out wide finding Cusano on wing who raced 60 meters down the sideline for the score. The conversion was no good and Cal led 12-0 with less than five minutes remaining.
The teams exchanged possession again and a Life break down the sideline ended when Alex McDonald was forced into touch. On the ensuing lineout, a missed tackle set Cal’s Aidan Flynn free and Cusano took the offload the rest of the way for the try. Webb added the conversion for the 19-0 tally.
Cal looked to threaten again soon after, but a Life hit jarred the ball loose. The Running Eagles ran the ball inside Cal’s 40-meter line, however, were stopped again by another knock. With the buzzer sounded, Webb kicked into touch to win the Cal’s fifth straight CRC final.