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Superior Ball Skills and Athleticism Take Majestics, Belmont Shore to Girls HS Club Final

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Superior Ball Skills and Athleticism Take Majestics, Belmont Shore to Girls HS Club Final

Majestics took it to SacPAL late. Alex Goff photo.

We have our national Girls HS Club finalists after Day One of action at Girls Nationals at the Wisconsin Rugby Complex in Cottage Grove, Wisc.

Majestics were outstanding in their two games. They had too much athleticism and speed of play for Aspetuck, and while the Connecticut team defended and played hard, Majestics was too quick and won 27-7.

In the second game of the day SacPal were powerful running through tackles and defeated Aspetuck 29-7.

So that set up the final pool game of the day with a place in Saturday's final at stake. The teams traded tries early, with SacPAL being stronger in contact, somewhat, and Majestics having pace and the passing abilty to set some quick players free.

With the teams tied at 12-12 late in the first half of the 45-minute game, Majestics exploded. Hard running from No. 8 Jasime Fehoko got them moving and with captain Marley Larkin running the attack nicely and fullback Harmony Hopoate making kicking a very bad idea, they raced in for a late first-half try. In that one lock Nau Rarick pulled off a big run and unleashed an improbably backhanded offload to set up the score.

Moments later Hopoate linked up with outside back Fane Tausinga, and the sophomore just blazed past the cover defense.

Suddenly it was 24-12.

After the SacPAL seemed to struggled to keep up. The tries began to flow with Fehoko and Tausinga enjoying themselves. Tausinga is more than just fleet feet, but she had to be giving thanks for her inside backs—the Majestics passing was nothing short of superb, with skip passes on a frozen line going 10 ro 15 meters right into players' hands. It was something to see, and Majetics eventually rolled 55-17.

In the other half of the bracket there was plenty of drama. Belmont Shore opened up their account with an imposing 49-3 win over Morris. Morris battled on but United handed them a 31-5 defeat and that set up the third pool match of the day.

United's power running met up with a smaller but scrappy and skilled Belmont Shore team. United scored first under the posts; 7-0. Belmont Shore pressured the line and finally scored in the corner. But a brilliant conversion kick from Nila Lolesio-Pua tied it up.

United continued to power ahead and did score a second try in the first half. But their also saw some other chances fall away from some little mistakes—chiefly impatience. Belmont Shore returned the favor, pressing too hard at the end of the first half when they could well have scored if they hadn't rushed—time was up, they just needed to keep the ball.

In the second half Belmont Shore spread the field. Their defense just barely kept United in check and after they took a slim 14-12 lead, the big break came with just a couple of minutes left. 

Shore was working the ball through the hands and one pass was almost picked off by United. Instead the ball fell to center Lau Liufau. She took off, cutting back at just the right moment and going in under the posts. Unsure of how close any chasers were, Liufau just pushed on. "Empty the tank," she said afterward.

That try made it 19-12 and the conversion under the posts would pretty much seal the game. But the United players showed plenty of hustle in charging the kick and blocking it. So they had one more shot. A scrum in the middle of the field was once again desperately defended by Belmont Shore, and the Californians just barely held on.

Are Majestics just that dominant? Well they did beat United three times, with an average score of 39-23. That would imply they are maybe favored over Belmont Shore. But Shore is very different from United, SacPAL, or even Aspetuck. They are quick and elusive and have ball skills to rival that of the Utah team. This could turn into a barnburner.