Cal Poly no match for top-ranked Saint Mary’s

D1A Rugby: Cal Poly no match for top-ranked Saint Mary’s
Photo Credit: Karen Drinkwater

LAFAYTTE, Colo. – The dominant start to Saint Mary’s 2017 season marched all over Cal Poly Saturday, Feb. 25. The Gaels scored at will on their California Conference rival, while limiting the Mustangs to a single try in the 94-7 hammering at Saint Mary’s College Stadium.

Fly half Mike McCarthy scored 17 points and props Henry Hall and Payton Telea were two of the six different Gaels to score tries – in the opening half.

Already leading 42-0 at intermission, five more Gaels got into the scoring fray in the second half, while Mike Wallace bagged two more tries to complete a hat trick and Telea scored a second. When the dust settled in Moraga, Calif., the final score was 94-7 in advantage of Saint Mary’s. Even more impressive about the 87-point onslaught is the fact that the Gaels rested All-Americans Dylan Audsley and Vili Helu. In their absence, super-sub flanker Marcus Viscardi got the start and Kevin O’Connor moved to the back of the scrum to fill in for usual eight man Helu. In the backs, Jack Carso slid over to the full back position Audsley has taken over and was stellar in defense – an improving aspect to his game – while Mike Wallace got a turn in the No. 13 jersey after an injury-plagued 2015-16 season.

Saint Mary’s roster is filled with rugby players who are just that – rugby players. They feel comfortable slotting in at a number of positions just so long as they get to run, pass and tackle.

“Wallace can play 6-15 and stay relevant, while Carso can competently play 9-15,” head coach Tim O’Brien said. “The majority of our team can play multiple positions well.”

Saint Mary’s impressive start to the 2017 year has already earned the team Canterbury’s No. 1 ranking in the D1A Rugby Top 20. Still, the Gaels have a lot of rugby to play before the Playoffs begin midway through April, including matches against #2 Cal, #4 BYU and a European tour. The high volume of competitive rugby makes it necessary for the team to grow its depth as the season moves along.

Against Cal Poly, Alejandro Duran and Nick Hryekewicz made big impressions off the bench.

“They brought lots of energy enthusiasm and go-forward,” O’Brien added.

Saint Mary’s has plans to improve its conference record to 4-0 next weekend against #11 San Diego State, while Cal Poly has an additional week to lick its wounds before going to Santa Barbara to play the Gauchos March 11.