(San Francisco) Two first-half tries from Peter Sio paced Belmont Shore to a 34-15 victory over the Gentlemen of Aspen and the national 7s championship.
The decisive win brought the Long Beach club its first 7s crown while gaining a measure of revenge for last year's finals upset, when the Coloradans rallied to snatch a 26-24 contest on the game's final play. Belmont has been America's winningest 15s side but less focused on the abbreviated game.
Sio, an Eagles 7s trialist who collected the tournament's MVP honors, twice scissored to exploit defensive lapses for converted tries. Ironically, Belmont's defense primarily sought to prevent Aspen from 'stepping' through gaps, in the belief that the frustrated Gents would kick away possession.
So it was that Belmont enjoyed all the field position and much of the possession during the first period, and tacked on a fifth try before Aspen's Ryan Nichols contributed two in a three-try comeback, making the count 29-15. But Sinapati Uiagalelei broke the momentum with a try on the last play.
In the 3d-place match between two past champions, Matt DeGutes rang up the second half's only score to earn the Chicago Lions a 14-7 win over Old Blue. Both had been edged in the semifinals: Aspen trimmed Old Blue 17-12, while Belmont topped the Lions 14-0.
San Francisco Golden Gate, 21-10 quarterfinal losers to Aspen, captured the consolation bracket with a 26-21 win over Atlanta Old White, the difference being Danny Barrett's notable try at the close of the first half, when the 19-year-old twice plowed over would-be tacklers despite running down the right sideline.
Six of the eight quarterfinalists were Super League teams, while two more RSL teams failed to advance.
Bemont Shore: Corey Blair, Riaan Hamilton, Nick Hawkins, Dallen Stanford, Iopu Sanonu, Peter Sio, Tony Fratangelo (Sinapati Uiagalelei)
Gentlemen of Aspen: Hayden Horsford, Spencer Scott, William Martin, Brian Naqica, Jason Pye, Mike Palefau, Ryan Nichols
Referee: Tom Lyons (Middle Atlantic)
Attendance: 400 (estimate)