Photo by Cal Athletics

Bears Fall to Life in Rugby National Championship Game

May 4, 2019
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ANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Golden Bears held the lead twice in Saturday's national 15s championship and were in a position to tie the match in its waning moments against Life University, but California could not hold on in a 29-26 defeat at Stevens Stadium.
 
Cal (18-2) got four tries, two apiece from junior Damon Wiley and senior captain Nic Mirhashem, with Wiley's second score giving the Bears their second lead of the night at 26-22 in the 68th minute. The junior prop also gave Cal its first lead of the match when his eight-meter rumble after 20 phases of teamwork was converted by freshman Sam Walsh (3-of-4 conversions) at minute 32.
 
Life took an early lead on a try by flyhalf Duncan Van Schalkwyk and got the last of its five tries to retake the lead in the 73rd minute on a score by Conner Mooneyham, converted by Mitchel Wilson (1-for-1).
 
Mooneyham's try stopped a three-try second-half scoring spree by the Bears, which included back-to-back scores by Mirhashem to help Cal trim a 15-point deficit to one. Wiley's second score gave the Blue and Gold another lead, but one that would last only five more minutes.
 
Wilson's conversion for Life after its final try left Cal down by three with seconds ticking away. The Bears quickly moved into position outside the Life 22-meter line and the Running Eagles were whistled for an infraction, setting a game-tying opportunity, but Walsh's penalty attempt went wide left. The last ticks ran off the clock after Life restarted and the Running Eagles exited the match with their second straight 15-a-side title over Cal.
 
"The game did not go our way but it very well could have," said Mirhashem. "I'm extremely proud of the boys and their commitment to one another and to this program."

"It was a physical match and the coaches had a great pattern, a great game plan," said junior center Christian Dyer. "We just didn't execute enough."

"Oh man, we had our chances, but couldn't finish off a few opportunities," said head coach Jack Clark. "Credit to the Life team for their performance. I am very proud of our boys. We came up a bit short in the end, but I'm so appreciative of their efforts and commitment."
 
The Championship Scoring Timeline
 
05:00 Life (Duncan Van Schalkwyk) 5
 
28:00 Damon Wiley 5, Sam Walsh 2
 
32:00 Life (Julian Roberts) 5
 
Halftime Score: Life 10, California 7
 
43:00 Life 5, 2
 
52:00 Life (Brian Muntanga) 5
 
57:00 Nic Mirhashem 5, Sam Walsh 2
 
64:00 Nic Mirhashem 5, Sam Walsh 2
 
68:00 Damon Wiley 5, Sam Walsh 2
 
73:00 Life (Connor Mooneyham) 5, (Mitchell Wilson) 2
 
Final Score: Life 29, California 26

 

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Bears Fall to Life in Rugby National Championship Game

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