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US champs off to a flyer

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Heavy favorites Belmont Shore, OMBAC and the Chicago Lions opened the USA Rugby Super League season with big wins at the weekend while the Denver Barbarians edged San Francisco Golden Gate in the final minute of a nail-biter.

Four matches on the East Coast were postponed due to ice storms that made fields unplayable and kept teams’ flights grounded.

Reigning Super League Champions OMBAC looked as if they would fall victim to a huge upset by new addition Santa Monica.

The San Diego powerhouse seemed flat, with Santa Monica jumping out to an 11-0 lead through two penalties from scrum-half Dave Hughes and a try from wing Duncan Oyango in the first 28 minutes.

OMBAC were down 16-10 more than 20 minutes into the second half. Then, iwith 15 mintues to go, hooker Will Hafu scored the first of his two tries on the day, giving OMBAC a lead ithey would not relinquish.

Wing Brian Barnard and center Jason Pye, both US Eagle hopefuls for the Rugby World Cup squad, scored tries for OMBAC, as did reserve full-back and Eagles sevens player Tui Osbourn.

Fly-half Sammy Gonzalez kicked four conversions and a penalty for 11 points, as OMBAC eventually cruised to a 16-36 bonus point win.

Belmont Shore, runners-up to OMBAC in 2006, kept pace with their Southern California rivals by topping Old Puget Sound Beach 50-20, also earning five points in the process.

Belmont got tries from seven different players and five conversion kicks from Man of the Match Peter Galicz.

Dotting down for Belmont were outside center Jason Roache, scrumhalf Mike Petri, wing Rakaipaka Puriri, lock Sika Poching, number eight and club captain Henry Bloomfield, full-back Iopu Sanonu, and former Eagle wing Sinipati Uiagalelei, who scored two tries.

Denver Barbarians scrum-half Dave Williams nailed a conversion in the final minute to beat the San Francisco Golden Gate club 24-22.

San Francisco Golden Gate got a strong performance by former Cal football star Shaun Paga, who scored two tries from the wing. Prop Jason Bowden and number eight Tasi Mounga each added a try and full-back Andrew Aiken was good with only one conversion.

Denver got tries from wing Mark Crovelli, flanker Mark Aylor and inside center Jeremy Osborne. Fly-half Jason Kelly hit two conversions and one penalty, before Williams’ heroics.

Denver earned four points for the victory while San Francisco Golden Gate came away with two points, one apiece for scoring four or more tries and for keeping the game within seven points.

Rounding out the group of winners in the Super League this weekend were the Chicago Lions, who downed the Dallas Harlequins 40-8.

Despite the lop-sided score, the match was quite even through the first 60 minutes, with Chicago holding a slim 14-8 lead until the 21st minute of the second half.

That’s when Lions full-back Jeremy Nash chipped over the Dallas defence, gathered his own ball and went in for a try that broke the game open.

Eagle center Philip Eloff scored his second try four minutes earlier, followed by tries from Eagle prop John Vitale and number eight Joe Chesak. Tihore also added five conversions in the rout, which takes the Lions to the top of the table.

RESULTS – March 17

Dallas Harlequins 8 Chicago Lions 40
Santa Monica 16 OMBAC 36
San Francisco Golden Gate 22 Denver Barbarians 24
Old Puget Sound Beach 20 Belmont Shore 50
Boston Irish Wolfhounds at Philadelphia-Whitemarsh POSTPONED
Washington at New York Athletic Club POSTPONED
St. Louis Bombers at Potomac Athletic Club POSTPONED
Charlotte at Old Blue (NY) POSTPONED

 

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