Week 14 Recap: Central Washington Splits Northern California Tour

D1A Rugby: Week 14 Recap: Central Washington Splits Northern California Tour
Photo Credit: Karen Drinkwater

This past week saw #14 Central Washington play UC Davis and #4 Saint Mary’s on their tour of Northern California.

First up for the Wildcats was a match against a UC Davis; a side looking to repeat their success from early December of 2018, when they won back to back matches against UC Santa Cruz and Chico State.

Central Washington’s Number 8 and Captain Alex Mackenzie opened the scoring for the Wildcats, with a try in the fourth minute of the match. The Wildcats would go on to shutout UC Davis until the early in the second half; when UC Davis winger Bradley Maples, returning from a trip to the sin bin, broke  through for a try in the 50th minute of the match. UC Davis hooker Tanner Wraa would score a few minutes later, bringing the score to 36-14 in favor of Central Washington after 58 minutes. This was the closest UC Davis would get to the Wildcats, as Central Washington went on to score six tries in the final 20 minutes of the match. The final score reading, 72-14. Ten different players crossed the try line on the day for the Wildcats, with blindside flanker Makani Mafua scoring a hat-trick.

After the game against UC Davis, a match against Saint Mary’s awaited the Wildcats on Saturday. Unfortunately, for the Wildcats, they could not find the same form they had against UC Davis and were shutout. The scoring started early for the Gaels, as flyhalf Joe Yacoubian crossed the line in the sixth minute of the match to score. Saint Mary’s scrumhalf Sean Yacoubian set up wing Tsuyoshi Enokida and fullback Edward King for two tries later in the half from short kicks to the oncoming runners. Sean Yacoubian scored a try of his own before the end of the half, putting the Gaels ahead 24-0. King would score his second try of the day early on in the second half, as the Gaels dominated possession. From there the first half repeated itself; the combination of the Gaels’ airtight defense and acute attack prevented the Wildcats from scoring and Saint Mary’s went on to win 50-0.

Central Washington head coach Todd Thornley was largely happy with the way his team had played across the two games against high level teams in Northern California “I’m proud of the way our guys played together considering the limited time we have had since Christmas break. We found out a lot about ourselves on this trip which means we can work hard to negate weaknesses in our game and enhance our strengths further. I’m looking forward to see how this team continues to grow throughout the season.”

Some of the areas coach Thornley plans on addressing once the team returns to campus is their performance in the scrum and at set pieces “St. Mary’s & UC-Davis both exposed our weakness at the set pieces, particularly our scrum. Part of this is the fact we have only had 4 days together since Christmas break and also some crucial injuries to some significant players in our tight 5. Some time together, and getting those personal back will help us progress forward in this area”

Next up for the Wildcats’ D1A schedule they have Cal Poly on January 19 ; while the Gaels will travel to take on UC Davis this weekend.