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The Tempe Rugby Club moved to 3-0 in Arizona DII club league play after a tense 10-0 defeat of longtime rivals Red Mountain.
Tempe had won their first two games of the season 70-12 and 136-12, respectively, and so could have expected another gallop on Saturday. However Red Mountain, 51-20 winners of Magpies in their opener, provided a much sterner test.
Tempe defense was outstanding, and absorbed a great deal of Red Mountain pressure to shut them out. Fullback Ryan Thompson and lock Matt O’Brien scored unconverted tries for Tempe, and that proved enough.
This is a young Tempe team that has had to deal with several retirements. Lock Kyle Carreno is only 20, and scrumhalf Alex Taefu is on the USA U20 team.
As a result, Tempe has moved from a team concentrating on tight five power to one that uses pace as well as power in the backs. Danny Bell captains the team at hooker, beside a former Wyoming prop, Brandon Lambrecht, and Kakalia Pule, a former center converted to the front row.
Sawyer Merrill has made strides at No. 8 and partners with former Arizona State flanker Travis Hughes and veteran Bret Fullerton.
Tempe's young back line gained some valuable sevens experience and confidence this past summer competing closely with the best in Southern California.
At scrumhalf Taefu works with veteran flyhalf Vaaifetu 'Star' Pauga, who has power runners Chris Iosefo, and Palavilala Taumoepeau outside him. The deep three of Ryan Thompson, Brandon Thompson and Sui Mafuahelotu Felemi, backed up by Adrian Taefu, are all very dangerous.
In other action in Arizona, Scottsdale won 29-12 over Phoenix putting both teams at 2-1. Camelback won their first game after two close losses, beating Old Pueblo 36-24. The Magpies won their first of the year, 35-17 over Northern Arizona.
|Arizona DII League||