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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Ruggers come out strong in weekend sweep of SoCal rivals

    After a dismal showing two weeks ago at Estevan Park, the Arizona club rugby team won its first games of 2006, completing a weekend sweep yesterday of Long Beach State and UCLA.

    The Ruggers (5-4, 2-3 SoCal Conference) beat UCLA (1-4, 1-3) 37-20 yesterday after taking down Long Beach State (9-3, 2-2) 22-10 on Friday. That was in large part because of a strong performance from senior center Marcus Johnson, which helped put the rough losses to No. 8 UC-Santa Barbara and No. 13 Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo behind them.

    “”This is the best game we’ve played since we played at Texas back in October,”” Arizona head coach Dave Sitton said after yesterday’s game. “”We played with heart.

    “”It was far from perfect, but at the same time, the execution was three letter grades better than we’ve recently played. We moved up to C-plus, B-minus level Friday against Long Beach State.””

    Sitton switched Johnson to center and Kohn to space for yesterday’s game and was very pleasantly surprised with the results.

    “”It was a good move,”” Sitton said. “”Marcus came on to the offense and played very well. He was just doing the good, hard work for the team and it paid off.””

    Added Johnson: “”We played a good game. It was probably the hardest we played all year, with a great team effort.””

    The game stayed close for most of the 80 minutes yesterday, and it would have been much closer had the Bruins been successful in kicking any of their two-point conversions.

    After a barrage of scoring trys and field goals by both teams, Arizona led UCLA 22-15 after 15 minutes of the second half, when Johnson scored another try. UCLA bounced right back and made the score even closer at 22-20, but after four trys, the Bruins kicker was 0-4 in conversions.

    Arizona ended the game on another scoring onslaught, when junior center Steve Elsbecker and junior flanker Chris Dublinski both had long runs for trys. Arizona did not stop scoring until the final seconds of the game, when a penalty kick went through the uprights.

    “”UCLA is a very good team,”” Sitton said. “”They are unlucky to be on a losing streak. I think they are one of the better teams we have faced all year, but at that, we decidedly raised the level of our play, and it paid off. We played as hard and physical of a game that we have played in a long time.””

    UCLA jumped out to a 5-0 lead early in the game, but minutes later junior fullback Matt Buppert intercepted a pass and lateraled the ball to Johnson, who ran the remainder of the field to score his first of three trys on the day.

    Johnson added to his total late in the half when sophomore center Jordan Kohn made an impressive pass, leading him to the goal. Both trys had two successful two-point conversions, making the score 14-5 at the half.

    In Friday’s game, the Wildcats scored a try early in the first half and led at halftime against the 49ers 15-5. In the second half, the 49ers were deep into Wildcat territory, when senior wing Steve Dawson intercepted an errant pass, and ran the whole length of the field for a try, sealing a win.

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