The final match of the regular season for USC Rugby against the table topping Cal State Long Beach Rugby team. It was a very warm March afternoon for the kickoff.
Right from the kickoff, CSULB put pressure on USC and pushed up against the try line, holding USC inside their own defensive area. After holding back wave and wave of attacks, CSULB finally punched through to score the opening points. A second try from Long Beach shortly after woke USC up and with some better passing and stronger forward work, USC started moving the ball down the field against the strong CSULB defense.
A slightly different strategy from USC Rugby in this match as USC kept pushing the ball back into CSULB’s territory with deep kicks from captains Joey Krassenstein and Haico Kaashoek. Rookie wingers Alvin Wong and Mitch Suzuki played the kicking strategy perfectly running back kicks into attacking territory.
Two major factors preventing a closer match – the USC forward pack were hurting for trained front rowers due to injuries, and the tackling was lacking any bite and too many CSULB ball runners found their way into the USC backfield, often without any contact from the first line of defense.
Later in the game, USC Rugby put together many phases of excellent rugby, and moved the ball across the field looking for breakthrough opportunities. At one point, it was clear the left wing was open and with quick hands and a two long passes, Mitch Suzuki broke through the final defenders tackle to score his first USC try in the corner.
Once again, the score line does not give the best reflection on this match. With only minutes remaining in the first half, and minutes remaining the second half, USC let through four tries that ballooned the scoreline out of reach for a comeback. Closing out playing periods and holding back attacks until the whistle will need to be a focus for the USC defense.
The Man of the Match for USC Rugby was hard charging Cameron Streeter. His forward pack was undersized and yet he organized the scrum to compete throughout the match. Cameron never stopped tackling and prevented many line breaks with his text book tackles.