Remember the 2018 D1A Final? Life vs Cal?
Could we see it again?
It’s quite possible. Cal hasn’t lost to a US college team this year, and in fact for most of the season has completely dominated the competition.
“We’ve still got a ways to go,” said prop Owen Duvall after last week’s blowout; it’s a common feeling within the Cal squad. In a Q&A earlier this month, head coach Jack Clark said much the same.
“[We’ve beeb] mostly good, or goodish at least. There is a strong work ethic on this team. They are close and pulling for each other. As a team we are evolving to the next level. I think we could play our best rugby going forward.”
That’s praise but praise with the clear expectation that Cal needs to be better against tougher competition.
What the Bears have been able to do at their best has been run their system unflinchingly. They get numbers to the breakdown, but not too many, and are sure of their plan.
But at the same time, Cal can be unpredictable and break a game open. Witness those three tries at the end of the Saint Mary’s game. It’s not the first time that Cal has moved from methodical to explosive when the need arises.
Is Life the same way? Maybe
After beating Penn State, Life head coach Colton Cariaga had praise for his team, but the praise wasn’t got breakaway tries. It was for defense and being methodical.
“It was a solid effort particularly from the defensive side of the ball,” said the Running Eagles coach. “Throughout the match, we were relentless on defense against a strong attacking team that had quite a bit of success two weeks prior. I have lots of praise for their effort there and to defense coach Neethling Gericke. On attack, we were able to create some scoring opportunities in the first half but errors and discipline kept us from building on that momentum. We came out in the first few minutes of the second half and finished a clinical series of play with a score. That was big for us.
Playoff rugby isn’t always about being flashy. Both Clark and Cariaga know what to takes to get to a championship game, and it’s about getting the job done. Against Navy (for Life), and Arizona (for Cal) the job will be very tough.