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Tight Games in Rugby Washington Openers

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Tight Games in Rugby Washington Openers

Liberty opened the Rugby Washington HS season with a 15-10 defeat of Budd Bay at Budd Bay.

For Liberty, it was a gratifying win, albeit one that came about eight months too late.

Liberty was 10-2 in Rugby Washington league and playoff competition, but those two losses - one in the regular season and one in the state final - came against Budd Bay.

“They are a big, forward-oriented team, and we seem to get dragged into playing their game,” said Liberty Coach Jeff Candler. “They are very good and somehow we can’t play the kind of game we want.”

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That was still the case, as the Patriots didn’t get to use their speed and athleticism the way they wanted.

“We are fast - overall we’re probably faster than last year,” said Candler. “Although we’ve got some size, too with David Ainuu. 

Liberty usually runs a heavily junior and senior team, but Candler said some younger players are “elbowing their way” into the 1st 15. 

“It’s exactly what we want to see - some competition for spots; it makes us better.” Among those is scrumhalf Noah Wright, who has emerged as a snappy playmaker for Liberty

Liberty has graduated nine all-state players. Loose forward Reece Hobday is the only one who made the Loggers select side who returns, but seven players from the Loggers JV program do come back.

Eastside started well, beating Seattle a day after the Vikings lost to the San Diego Mustangs, and a day before Eastside did the same thing. 

Perhaps the biggest result of note is that of Rainier Highlanders, new to DI, beating longtime contenders Chuckanut 44-38. 

“It was a nailbiter and a heck of a match,” said Rainier Coach Jeff Sprouse. “We had a good-sized lead and they came storming back in Chuckanut fashion.”

Rainier made it to DI after winning DII in 2015, but they graduated a large number of players from that team.

“We’ve got some new players coming in and they look good,” said Sprouse.

Having enjoyed a big lead, Rainier saw Chuckanut come back to lead 38-37 with time running out. That’s when No. 8 Lia Faletogo-Monis picked up from the base of the scrum with no time left and powered 30 meters to go over to wi the game. Monis, captain Halleluiah Tiauli, and flyhalf Jacob Nist all played well, but at the end of the game, said Sprouse, “Lia just put the team on his back.”

Kent took a bye in this first week of the seven-team Rugby Washington DI, and will open against Rainier on Friday.