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Winning tradition gains momentum on Colusa County rugby pitch
Success is already an expectation for the second-year Colusa Country Rugby Football Club, and the team demonstrated why with a 70-0 dismantling of Mendocino Rugby Club on Saturday at Egling Middle School in Colusa.
The shutout was Colusa County's second after defeating State of Jefferson Elite 72-0 to open the season on Feb. 4 in Yreka.
Last year the Colusa County team won its first seven games before losing 24-20 to Redwood Empire in the semifinals of the Northern California Rugby Football Union playoffs, during the club's first season back after an eight-year hiatus.
Despite losing a few key players the team has its sights set on another perfect league campaign and a deeper run into the postseason, according to Colusa County captain Christian Cowsert.
"We want to go back undefeated but Reno and Redwood, we have question marks on them and, we're going to be honest, they're good teams. I firmly believe we can beat them and I think the guys are going to get pretty fired up for those games," Cowsert said.
Colusa County took a little while to warm up against Mendocino, but scored the first points of the match when inside center Chris Smith stole possession and pitched the ball to left-wing Gerardo Parra for a long try in the ninth minute. Smith put the kick through the uprights for the 7-0 lead.
Mendocino features a strong pack of forwards, Cowsert said, and they controlled possession of the ball for the next 10 minutes but couldn't score against the Colusa County defense.
"They're not a bad team, they've got good ball control," he said. "Those guys are awesome in the scrum."
But Colusa County repelled Mendocino's attacks with solid tackling and as the half wore on, Colusa County's distinct advantage in the backfield began to show.
In the 19th minute Smith broke two tackles and raced in for a try and converted the kick. Ten minutes later, Lukas Polit bulled his way through the Mendocino defense and tossed the ball to right-wing Nico Valencia for a try and a 20-0 lead.
Parra out-ran the Mendocino defense for his second try of the match with four minutes left in the half to give Colusa County a 27-0 lead at the whistle.
"Last year we played a beat-up game where the forwards just pounded on everybody and tried to overpower everybody. This year we're using our loosies and faster forwards to get out to the backs and actually run a fast game," Cowsert said.
Colusa County relied on its defense to wear Mendocino out in the first half and the strategy worked. Forward Matt Huffman touched the ball down across the goal line three minutes into the second half to spark a flurry of Colusa County scores.
Newcomer Blake Greene scored his first try of the game three minutes later and Valencia set down his second try four minutes after that. Smith gave Colusa County a 51-0 lead with the team's fourth try in the first 13 minutes of the second half.
Colusa County kept on scoring in the 64th and 66th minutes on tries by Victor Muniz and Valencia. Mitch Barsotti put in the final try and Smith closed out the scoring by converting the kick for a 70-0 lead.
"(Mendocino) lost to Reno last week 39-10, we go to Reno next week so this was a good gauge to get a feel for what Reno has," Cowsert said.
Reno didn't bring its entire team to the Mendocino match, Cowsert said, and he expects the Zephyrs to be at full strength when Colusa County invades its home turf next Saturday.
Colusa County (2-0) won't return home until March 24 against the Shasta Highlanders Rugby Club. The team travels to Santa Rosa to play Redwood Empire on March 3 and to Arcata to play the Humboldt Old Growth on March 17.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or email@example.com.