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Tempe U19s edged the upstart Red Mountain squad Saturday 24-20 to win the Arizona U19 title.
Tempe had defeated Red Mountain 10-3 earlier in the season, but expected a much sterner test as Red Mountain had added some players during the season, inclulding some from New Zealand.
The game ended up much like the Arizona men's club final, with both teams putting everything on the line in an entertaining, back-and-forth match.
Red Mountain got on top of Tempe early in the first half with a try from Tony Vaitafa and a penalty from Steven Bevan to lead 8-0. However, Tempe answered back with tries from James Vaifale, Miguel Ramirez, and Sione Letoi which, with Alex Taefu's two conversions, made it 19-8 at halftime.
But Red Mountain wasn't done and stormed back. Robert Dalton and and Tahana Elkington scored tries, with Bevan converting one, but Tempe's Tommy McDonald made it over the line, as well, to keep his side ahead 24-20.
The win sets up Tempe with a chance to qualify for the National Championships if they win the Pacific Coast #2 seed qualifier. Anticipated opponents include United from Utah, Liberty from Washington, and one of several from Northern California, including possibly SFGG, Hayward, San Mateo, or the Cougars.
Tempe U19s 24
Tries: Vaifale, Ramirez, Letoi, McDonald
Tries: Vaitafa, Dalton, Elkington