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Cal took on the University of British Columbia in the first leg of what has become coined as the “World Series” this weekend. Last year the Bears dropped both games of the home and home with UBC and the first one of 2017 went in similar fashion to the Canadian side. The Bears mounted a second half comeback, but ultimately fell short 28-17 on their home turf.
UBC scored the first three tries of the afternoon to take a 21-0 lead before Russell Webb added a penalty to get Cal on the board. British Columbia got a fourth score right before halftime and took a 28-3 lead going into the break.
Cal held the visitors silent in the second half but could only manage two tries. Drew Gaffney and Fawzi Kawash both found the try zone in the final five minutes to cut the lead to 28-17. While the Bears did not mount a full comeback, the points will go towards the aggregate of the home and home. Cal will need to beat UBC by more than 11 on the road. It will be difficult, but a lot easier than the original 25-point deficit the Bears put themselves in during the first 40 minutes.
"There are a lot of positives we can take from this," said Russell Webb. "The underclassmen were immense. Every single one of us is ready to go into that training room tomorrow and start getting ready for the next job."
The Bears started five freshmen and three sophomores against a very experienced UBC team. It will pay dividends going forward as Cal looks to defend both its Penn Mutual Varsity Cup and Collegiate Rugby Championships.
"We had a pretty steady level of play and the young guys did great," said prop Kevin Sullivan, who called the younger players' effort "a little inexperienced in set pieces, perhaps, but they more than made up for it in open play."
The Bears will travel to Canada to play the second leg of the “World Series” on March 6. Until then, they will take on Santa Rosa Junior College in a mid week clash.