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Belmont Shore Surfs to 7s Title

Sunday Aug 16, 2009 in Sevens Club Competitions

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(MVP Peter Sio scores three in final over Aspen. Dobson Images)

Belmont Shore pulled of an almost perfect half of 7s rugby, and rode that to a national 7s championship, defeating Aspen in Sunday’s final 34-15 at Rocca Field, Treasure Island, San Francisco.

Peter Sio scored three tries in the final, to go with his huge haul for the entire tournament, and was the prohibitive winner of the tournament MVP award.

“It’s nice to have this,” Sio said of his MVP trophy. “But it’s more important to have this,” he said, pointing to his champions medal. “This year it was all about team. It wasn’t one player over another, we all worked together. This year, we wanted it more.”

In the championship game, many anticipated a tight contest, but it didn’t start out that way. Belmont Shore were just quicker and harder to the breakdown and dominated possession early. Riaan Hamilton was put through a hole out wide and the former USA 7s captain burned it all the way to the corner for the opening try.

Then some sustained defensive pressure put Belmont in a good attacking position near the Aspen line. Dallen Stanford skated sideways and then popped a pass to Sio coming in on a reverse angle. Iopu Sanonu hit the conversion for a 12-0 lead.

Moment later it was more of the same. Stanford scissored with Sio, who at least had to break through a tackle to score this time. 19-0.

Aspen had hardly touched the ball, and even when they did, they were so far in their own end they were forced to kick. Off a tap penalty Stanford looped around Corey Blair to score in the corner to make it 24-0, and amazingly that was the score after only ten minutes.

Shore continued the onslaught and a quick tap gave Sio an easy try to get his hat trick. 29-0.

Aspen was able to get the ball after that. With Nic Hawkins off for a yellow card, Shore was down a man and Aspen made them pay, sending Ryan Nichols on a long run for a try.

A big break by Mike Pelfau out of his own 22 allowed him to link with Nichols for the wing’s second. 29-10. But all those tries were taking too long to put together and Aspen had too far to go. Palefau attacked off a turnover and put away Spencer Scott, but at 29-15 Aspen couldn’t close further. In the end, just as Aspen were getting hope, their hopes were cruelly dashed.

This is how Shore had operated all weekend. If a team got a sniff, then impact sub Sinipati Uiagalelei would score the death kneel dry.

This Uiagalelei did once more, thundering down the sideline to score in the corner.

“Pati’s been our impact guy all season,” said Tony Frantangelo. “He is amazing.”

“It’s great to be able to help, and I really enjoy it,” said Uiagalelei. “Doing that is fun.”

The game was over then, and Shore celebrated a clear victory.

Over the two days

In other action, the Chicago Lions defeated Old Blue to take third place. Old Blue had arrived without two of their best players in Marco Barnard and Troy Hall. No matter, as they battled and scraped their way to the semis.

Still, the Lions had adversity of their own. Jeremy Nash went down with a leg injury and they finished Sunday without Chris Scott Jones. They cobbled together a squad and led by Scott Peterson took third 14-7, Brian Rooney and Matt Dugutes the unlikely try-scorers.

SFGG got a big charge from the crowd as they beat Atlanta Old White 26-21 in a dramatic Plate Final. Jone Naqica was a star, playing with his head bandaged up, and Cal sophomore Danny Barrett scored yet another crucial try.

In the Bowl Final, NOVA overcame some early jitters to eliminate Boston 26-7 in the Bowl Final. Josh Stallings was outstanding in the victory.

“The first half was unbelievable,” said TF “We were talking about how we wanted to bring it to them first and we didn’t want to lay down. We didn’t want the same thing to Happen as last year. They did make an attempt but coach made some good substitutions and we held them off.”

“Nikko and I talked about how we needed to be patient, and be comfortable and we didn’t want to make mistakes,” said Aspen coach Andy Katoa before the final.

“Maybe we started flat,” said Aspen’s Jason Pye. “I know their preparation was good and they are a good team.”

Belmont Shore 34
Tries: Sio 3, Stanford, Hamilton Uiagalelei
Convs: Sunonu 2

Aspen 15
Tries: Nichols 2, Scott

- Alex Goff

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