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Tanner Barnes leading the Wildcats into battle

In an opening season tune up for both squads, the Pacific Rugby Premiership’s Olympic Club outlasted Central Washington University 19-15 at Cal-Maritime University. OC battled back from an early deficit and held off a late Wildcat charge to seal the victory. With Snow in the Pacific Northwest, today’s game was the first time that the Wildcats were able to get outdoors. Returning a large contingent of players, however, CWU jumped out of the gate strong and took an 8-0 lead. “It was our first time outside all year. We have been under snow pretty heavy so far. To get down here and just get out and get a run was fantastic,” said CWU coach Tony Pacheco. “We had some really brilliant moments and some bad mistakes which was to be expected.” The Wildcats took a 5-0 lead off a driving maul. Flanker Vili Toluta’u peeled off the back of the maul and scored in the corner. Scott Dean added a penalty a few minutes later to extend the lead to eight nil. Olympic Club, who has struggled in the PRP the last couple of seasons, is much improved thanks to an influx of Cal players. In fact, former Golden Bears accounted for all of the club teams points. Along with a number of retirements, and the return of Alex Amici to the forwards, it is a revamped roster. “They are much better than they were last year,” Pacheco said of Olympic Club. Colin Hawley dented the Wildcat lead with a try in the corner and recent Cal graduate Jake Anderson added a penalty to tie the game at eight apiece. Anderson, who capped off a tremendous career at Cal with a tournament winning score at the CRC, adds a new dynamic to the Olympic Club backline. Another Golden Bear, Carl Hendrickson gave the club side its first lead of the match early in the second half and another Anderson penalties extended the lead to 16-8. “Carl played the house down yesterday,” Olympic Club coach Ray Lehner told Rugby Today. “He is a traditional openside flanker all over the ball, all over the place, had a lot of good moments.” CWU battled back, however, getting a try from Dominic Lindstrom in the 68th minute. After a third Anderson penalty, the Wildcats maintained pressure for the final quarter of the game and were knocking on the door in the 78th minute. Inside the five-meter line, Central Washington pounded away at the OC defense. Rather than spinning it wide for a certain try, the Wildcats pounded the fringes and eventually knocked the ball on. The final whistle blew and Olympic Club escaped with the 19-15 victory. For Central Washington it was much needed run out before a tough independent schedule. In order to face tougher competition, the Wildcats have elected to withdraw from the NCRC conference. CWU has dominated the conference to the tune of triple digit victories for the past number of seasons and to the benefit of both the conference and the club, decided to exit. “We brought back quite a few guys and got a new influx of talent as well. We have a chance to be a strong side and we will learn from this,” Pacheco added. For Olympic Club, the match is a final tune up before the PRP opens next weekend. “Obviously we are going to be underdogs. We tallied four wins in two seasons and a lot of competitive games that we have been there until the end but have not gotten the results. We have work to do and will build,” concluded Lehner.