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MORAGA, Calif. - California defeated Saint Mary's Saturday on Pat Vincent Field, leading most of the match as the Golden Bears built a 38-point lead before their nine-try effort ended with a 60-34 win over the Gaels.
No. 8 Danny Barrett, wing Dustin Muhn and fullback Blaine Scully scored two tries each as the Bears (22-0, 6-0) clinched the top spot in the Pacific region. Cal will face the No. 2 team from the Mid-South region in a national quarterfinal May 7 at a venue to be determined.
The Gaels got on the board first when fullback Max Heath kicked a 15-meter penalty in the second minute, but Cal tied it at 3-3 two minutes later when flyhalf James Bailes connected on his 30-meter attempt.
Scully scored his first try three minutes after that, followed in the 14th minute by Muhn's first, which came on a second-phase attack that saw three forwards in the line putting the ball through their hands.
But St. Mary's replied effectively. Bubba Jones had been faking scrissor moves during the early going, but executed one perfectly to split the Cal D and set free Mike Haley. The center linked with flanker Robert Clarson who then passed to Brohpy for an outstanding try. Then Heath capped a 14-minute period of St. Mary's pressure - this time Tim Maupin clapping a high bass behind him into Heath's hands. And suddenly it was 15-15.
But Muhn and Bailes added tries for the Bears before halftime to put Cal up by 12 at the break, each time stretching the St. Mary's D to the breaking point and then testing them around the outside.
Cal scored four unanswered tries to blow the game open in the second half, leading by 53-15 after outside center Seamus Kelly's score at minute 61. St. Mary's came back. Nick Wallace, a rock all day at prop, rumbled in on a crashball, and sub Garrett Brewer went long range and then hit the touchline conversion.
But it was Cal's day in the end, 60-34.
"We knew they would be scrappy and they were," said co-captain Derek Asbun. "We struggled a bit in the first half to match their intensity in the rucks, but that became one of our strengths in the second half."
"Great preparation as we approach the postseason," said Bailes, who finished 6-for-9 on conversions in addition to his try and penalty kick to contribute 20 points to the contest. "We knew we'd have to play some scramble defense and there was a high level of physicality. Coach Clark told us to keep our shape and make it a game of rugby."
“We wanted to come out and play Cal at their own game, the whole physical stuff. We matched them early, but as soon as we let up on the gas pedal in our physicality they scored a bunch of tries,” said St. Mary’s captain and hooker Andrew Cook. “Cal’s scramble defense is excellent. They do a good job one guys is taking the ballcarrier and the other taking support. We said it before, we live by the way we play and we’ll die by it.”
Tries: Scully 2, Muhn 2, Barrett 2, Bailes, Rooke, Kelly
Convs: Bailes 6
St. Mary's 34
Tries: Brophy, Heath, Wallace, Brewer, Cook
Convs: Heath, Brewer 2