USC Rugby played their final pre-season match against Pac 12 rival UCLA at the Westwood campus. The 2nd XV players started the day with the curtain raiser match, and the 1st XV followed.
The first game was a spirited match with plenty of action from both sides. Simple USC handling mistakes and the familiar missed tackles allowed UCLA to run in three first-half tries and a conversion. Even though the score was starting to get away from USC, the team played good physical rugby and produced some entertaining moments. USC inside-center Christopher Li played an excellent match, as did forwards Anthony Jusuf and Jack Haley, showcasing USC’s improvement. UCLA scored two more tries in the second half, but USC improved their play, keeping UCLA’s scoring to a minimum.
The 1st XV match was always going to be a tough challenge for USC, as UCLA plays in a division higher than USC. But even so, USC’s hands let them down. The few times USC did gain possession of the ball, they quickly turned it over to UCLA, who marched down the field to score. This happened several times early in the first half before USC started holding back the UCLA attacks. Near the end of the first half, USC finally managed some quality possession and put pressure on the UCLA try line, but was unable to score before the half-time whistle. A penalty kick from Haico Kaashoek did put USC on the scoreboard in the first half.
USC played much better in the second half, gaining more territory with the ball in hand and making more tackles to stop UCLA attacks. And Robert Semu scored what was to be USC’s only try of the game. Still, UCLA was able to capitalize on plenty of USC errors to run in four more second-half tries. As USC improves our ball handling and tackling, we’ll be able to keep that score much closer.
Outstanding players for USC were Aaron Soskin, Adam Bushell, and Man Of The Match Big John Martinez.
USC ended their 2014-2015 pre-season with a 4-2 record. We’ll work hard to improve and be ready for the kick-off the regular season. Fight on!