Cal poly hosted a 7s tournament Saturday, in which several teams prepping for one of two national qualifiers competed. St. Mary’s, who is set to host California 7s, a qualifier Oct. 29-30 in Moraga, Calif., downed the host Mustangs 29-28 in the final.
The Gaels went 4-0 on the day, beating UCLA, who will compete at Pacific 7s (Pac-12) Oct. 22 in Palo Alto, Calif., in one semifinal. “They were equally as tough as Cal Poly,” said St. Mary’s 7s coach Mark Bass of the Bruins. “UCLA and Cal Poly seemed to be very well organized. They’d obviously been training for 7s.”
The Mustangs advanced to the final with a semifinal win over UC-Santa Barbara. The 12-team field was split into four pools of three, with the winner of each advancing to the semifinals.
The Gaels were in control most of the 20-minute final, but some missed conversions and a late surge by Cal Poly made the game interesting.
“It was a great match, a lot of scoring, great efforts on both sides,” said Cal Poly 7s coach Andy Doukas. “St. Mary’s had a lot of speed and a little bit less size. Cal Poly brought in a bigger sized squad, used some physical ability and it was a very close match. St. Mary’s led for most of the game, but Cal Poly came back and scored some tries there.”
The Gaels managed just two conversions on five tries, leaving them with 29 points, while Cal Poly converted all four of theirs, the last of which came too late.
7s All American Bubba Jones shined for St. Mary’s on the day, as expected, but so did a pair of Bellingham, Wash. natives, including on you wouldn’t expect. Scrumhalf Chad Clark is a long-known commodity, and his game translates well to the 7s field.
“He is made for 7s because of his ability to scan the field and run hard diagonally and create openings,” said Bass. “He was setting up players left and right.”
The other Washingtonian who stood out? Nick Wallace, who props and locks for the 15s side.
“He’s a very talented runner and ball carrier…He is very mobile, very good with the ball in hand – just the ability to keep the ball in two hands and not tuck it and run it like a lot of guys,” added Bass. “It’s all about creating and executing. He kept this one guy at bay for about 30 yards – just kept showing it like he was going to pass it.”
Bass was also complimentary of Cal Poly wing Dominic Ferri, who showcased rare speed.