By Thomas Howells – UCLA ’15
The UCLA Rugby Club returned to Westwood after a pain staking loss to Arizona State University by a single 2-point conversion. A tough day in the Arizona sun saw the Bruins finish their PAC season with a 2-3 record, with the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup on the near horizon.
The Bruins opened the 1st half inside the Sun Devils territory and a quick succession of pick and go’s resulted in a try for prop Arturo Hernandez. UCLA looked threatening in the back three, especially with Luke Hoffman from full back, who returned the ball half way back up the field multiple times. One of these counter attacks left the Bruins in a promising position inside the ASU half, which Antonio Cervantes capitalized on by showing his elusiveness to dot the ball down in the corner. The half ended with a third try for UCLA started on the eastern side of the venue with some silky hands allowing Seb Sharpe an easy cutback for a try near the posts. The simple conversion was added by #10 Ben Francis.
The Bruins looked comfortable going into half time, with a nice cushion to build on and held the majority of possession through a high success rate in the scrums and line-outs, but were unable to put the Sun Devils to the sword after the first 20 minutes. While the forwards showed improvement with winning possession, there was little cohesion with a back-line poised to attack and; as a result, ASU then took full advantage of some careless errors to get back into the game.
Center Race Noeldner looked to have calmed the nerves with an interception for a try, a play that is quickly becoming his trademark. He picked off a pass in the back three after a good clearance kick from Ben Francis and a good chase from the rest of the team. Francis then looked to have put the game away converting a penalty to give the Bruins an 8 point lead with just ten minutes to go, but the Sun Devils made the most of an overlap to score in the corner and tie the game. The ensuing conversion from the left touchline snatched the result and made the ride back even more painful than can be described with words.
UCLA will now face San Diego State at home on Saturday, March 14th. The game between two of Southern California’s preeminent teams will provide the Bruin’s a good chance to test their depth before they begin preparations for their opening match of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup against Air Force.
Come support and rally the Bruins on against San Diego State on March 14th!
5-0 Try Hernandez
10-0 Try Cervantes
10-7 Try Arizona State
17-7 Try Sharpe, conversion B. Francis
17-10 Penalty Arizona State
22-10 Try Noeldner
22-17 Try Arizona State
25-17 Penalty B. Francis
25-20 Penalty Arizona State
25-17 Try Arizona State, conversion Arizona State