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Tempe U16s Win State Title in Thriller

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Tempe U16s Win State Title in Thriller

The Tempe players celebrate a close win.

May 8 saw the Rugby Arizona Boys U16 final between longtime rivals Red Mountain and Tempe, and the game did not disappoint.

In a thriller, Tempe won 38-36.

“The U16 final was a great spectacle,” said Red Mountain Head Coach OJ Hawea. “ When we look at our team having lost to them 55-17, 47-29, and a complete pasting just three weeks ago losing 66-5, we obviously had some work to do.”

Hawea got his team working on competing in the contact area, and also holding onto the ball better “to build some pressure and force them to play a little more defense. We were able to accomplish that for good periods which made it a competitive game, but they just took their opportunities a little better and came away with the championship.”

This was, however, what Tempe Head Coach Charlie McGarvie called a nailbiter.

Tempe was led by Blake Liddell, while the punishing runs from Villi Pulu, Pete Lui, Garrett Ness, and Shawn Palmer put Red Mountain under pressure. 

Red Mountain’s work in the breakdown was much improved, and had it not been for Reno Sefo’s work getting turnovers, it might have done the deed for RM.

“It was a very hard-hitting, fast-paced kind of match,” said McGarvie. 

Both teams had breakaways and some exciting tries. In the end, though, it was a penalty try that did it. Tempe flyhalf Adam Hotta was away and looked set to go in under the posts. He was stopped illegally and that’s a penalty try—an automatic seven points and Tempe was through by two points.

“For both teams it was as advertised,” said McGarvie. “It was a great finals game between two solid teams.”