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EPA Races to DII Title

Monday Jun 1, 2009 in Amateur Competitions Division II Clubs

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May 31, 2009 - East Palo Alto (CA) won the 2009 Division II National Club Championship with a seven try, 46-22 win over the Albuquerque Aardvarks. East Palo Alto (EPA) scrumhalf Duke Vahai was named the Championships Most Valuable Player.

To reach the final EPA posted an impressive 30-11 win over Indianapolis in Saturday?s semifinal while Albuquerque defeated Lancaster 34-23.

EPA opened the scoring with a try by Onesi Havea (5-0) in the ninth minute. They extended it to 12-0 in the 17th following Havea?s second try, a tackle breaking run that was converted by Folau Niua.

Albuquerque flyhalf Diego Sotelo and Niua then exchanged penalty goals in the 20th and 22nd minutes bringing the score to 15-3.

A try by scrumhalf Duke Vahai that Niua converted in the 40th minute gave East Palo Alto a 22-3 lead at intermission. Second Half

Three minutes after the restart EPA?s lead increased to 29-3 when 21-year-old prop Benny Pahulau crashed over for a try that Niua converted. In the 11th minute EPA fullback Vagrawale made a long return of an Albuquerque kick that failed to find touch, passing off to lock Vaea Sanft for the try, 34-3. A try by No. 8 Paula Sakalia in the 22nd minute increased EPA?s lead to 39-3. Albuquerque finally ended its scoring drought in the 30th minute when Dick Scholz scored following a nice gain by McBride and Sotelo converted 39-10.

Despite receiving two yellow cards for professional fouls and playing two men down, Albuquerque’s Alex Walton was able to touch down in the 36th minute, 39-15. East Palo Alto, however, would have the last word when wing Kumi Uhila scored in the 43rd minute and Niua converted, bringing the final score to 46-15. Postscript

EPA coach Rob Holder compared East Palo Alto’s win to the Super League title he won as a player with the Denver Barbarians (1999) and the National Collegiate Championship he won as coach of the Air Force Academy (2003).

“With this Championship there’s no doubt we came the furthest, considering where East Palo Alto was when we started three years ago and where we are today. So there’s a real sense of accomplishment here. While every championship is special, this one is extra-special.

“Back then we had trouble getting 15 players on the field. It was hard getting numbers and getting the players to believe that if they worked hard success would come. Today the club comprises 50 players.”

Holder singled out hooker Mo Lutui among the forwards and scrumhalf and Duke Vahai. Holder also had special praise for team Captain Viliami Tai, whom he described as “The glue who held the team together throughout the season.”

East Palo Alto 46: Havea 2T, Vahai T, Pahulau T, Sanft T, Sakalia T, Uhila T, Niua P, 4C.

Albuquerque 22: Scholz T, Walton T, Armstrong T, Sotelo P, 2C.

Referee: Ed Gardner

- Ed Hagerty © www.erugbynews.com

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