Gaels return stateside, crush Santa Clara

D1A Rugby: Gaels return stateside, crush Santa Clara
Photo Credit: Karen Drinkwater

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Saint Mary’s return to California Conference action was a dominant one after a week-long rugby tour of New Zealand for the student-athletes’ spring break. The Gaels made the short trip south to Santa Clara, and posted 50 points in each half on their way to a 100-24 win.

Even though No. 2-ranked Saint Mary’s played a lot of rugby while on tour, the team was far from tired in its clinical dispatch of the Broncos.

“After a tour you should be rejuvenated,” Saint Mary’s Assistant and Forwards Coach Johnny Everett said. “The bond from traveling together can’t be duplicated at home.”

Santa Clara held a brief lead to begin the match when fly half Andrew Clem went over the end line and Matt Fitzgerald converted the try. The Gaels, however, would score the game’s next 24 points in just over 10 minutes. By the time the halftime whistle sounded, full back Charlie Loudon netted a hat trick and Saint Mary’s led 50-17.

“I think they were excited to take what was learned and use it against a competent opponent,” said Everett of Saint Mary’s barrage of tries. “We are trying to eliminate errors and string together multiple phases.”

The Gaels unloaded their bench during the second half and the dominant form continued. Replacement prop Cory Kroeger came on in the 50th minute and had his own hat trick by the 70th. Reserves and starters alike continued to work hard until the final minute, and that’s when openside flanker Alec Barton scored his second try, and Mike McCarthy’s successful conversion put Saint Mary’s at the century mark.

McCarthy, playing fly half after spending much of the season at center, was solid from the kicking tee. He was 10 of 16 on conversions and scored two tries for 30 points.

One player that was given a rest was All-American Dylan Audsley. The center has compiled a lot of minutes this season, but should be back on the pitch April 9 for the Gaels’ final regular season game at home against Cal Poly.