VANCOUVER, Canada - The top-ranked Golden Bears defeated the University of British Columbia, 38-6, Sunday at Thunderbird Stadium, overcoming a stingy UBC defense with 29 unanswered points in the second half.
"It was a very spirited effort from an old foe," said head coach Jack Clark. "UBC was very committed today, but we stood toe to toe with them in the early stages and it established a platform to win the match."
Captain Seamus Kelly scored two tries and fullback Jake Anderson recorded 18 points on four penalties (4-for-4) and three conversions (3-for-4) as California won its seventh straight "World Cup" series.
"They're a really good defensive team and you can't rely on strength alone against the Thunderbirds," said Kelly. "Historically this is a measuring stick for our team and we passed the test today."
The final installment of the 2013 edition of the "Cup," a rivalry that dates back to 1921 with a trophy from the Vancouver World newspaper, was a war of attrition in the first half, with Cal up 9-6 going into the intermission.
Solid defensive lines replete with hard hitting had both teams clawing for points as Cal sought to protect the 10-point series lead it brought into the match.
It was a scoreless contest in the 17th minute when Bears freshman flyhalf Russell Webb tried to get his team on the board with his second attempted drop goal of the season, but his kick was short and wide. Seven minutes later, UBC outside center Brock Staller connected on a 38-meter penalty kick (2-for-4) to give the home team a 3-0 lead.
Anderson responded for Cal with his first penalty, from 22 meters, followed two minutes later with his second from almost same spot, giving Cal a 6-3 advantage. Staller missed his next attempt before he tied it up at 6-6 late in the first stanza from 30 meters, but Anderson's third penalty kick sent the Bears to the locker room with a three-point lead.
The Bears clearly came out of the halftime break with an adjusted plan and got their first two tries of the match from Kelly and flanker Jack O'Beirne, with Anderson converting the former. The Thunderbirds took it back into Cal territory to create another scoring opportunity but Staller's next penalty attempt from 28 meters went wide left.
Cal dug in on defense and held the Birds at bay from corner to corner, then added a fourth penalty kick from Anderson followed by Jared Braun's try and Kelly's second score to end the afternoon.
"The halftime adjustments were well executed on the field, which is the sign of a switched-on team," coach Clark said.
Added Anderson, "Getting the ball out of the breakdown quicker and more cleanly was the difference."
The Bears, who won the "Cup" on Sunday with only four graduating players - Danny Barrett, Brendan Daly, Grant Hyjer and J.P. Hurrell - in the starting lineup and a fifth, Lyall Davenport, among the replacements on the travel roster, improve to 17-0 overall (4-0 PAC Rugby Conference) while British Columbia falls to 12-3-2.
"I'm mostly pleased for the five graduating players on the trip," Clark said. "Over the course of their careers they've accomplished much in this contest."
The Rugby Bears get a brief hiatus for spring break before their midweek reassembly to prepare for Homecoming next Saturday, March 30, at 1 pm against Utah on Witter Rugby Field, where Cal will attempt to clinch first place in the inaugural season of the PAC Rugby Conference with a win over the Utes.
Two weeks after the match with the Utes marks the end of Cal's PAC conference slate, the Bears host Saint Mary's in the resumption of that local rivalry to end the regular season.
The Bears' postseason is already set with the Varsity Cup, in which Cal faces Notre Dame in an April 20 super-regional showdown at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. The winner of that match will host the winner of Navy vs. Dartmouth April 27, followed by the championship May 4 in Provo, Utah.
After the Varsity Cup, Cal will compete in the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s June 1-2 in Philadelphia.
Tries: Kelly 2, O'Beirne, Braun
Convs: Anderson 3
Pens: Anderson 4
Pens: Staller 2