Kahuku Opens With Kalihi Win
It’s year three for Kahuku, and the North Shore high school has begun its campaign to defend its Hawaii state championship. The Raiders are also looking to build on their first-ever trip to high school nationals, and Saturday’s 25-5 win over Kalihi was a first step.
The first half was a bit slow, according to Kahuku coach Nusi Tukuafu. Gigi Filipo-Maiava took a pick-and-go over the try line for the first score of the 2017 season. Minutes later, rookie Shan Keaweehu, a very fast wing, dotted down for the 10-0 lead. Kalihi then launched a 10-minute offensive and finally crossed for five before the break, 10-5.
Kahuku restored the 10-point lead quickly, as Kawai Akina finished a forwards phase in the try zone. Scrumhalf Niusina Auelua followed off a 22-meter penalty play, and then Akina got her second of the day, 25-5.
“First-game jitters were the cause of a lot of drop balls and some backline miscommunication,” Tukuafu explained. “Forward of the Match was senior flanker Naitia Auelua, who was a defensive power with plenty of tackles. The Back of the Match was the newcomer Shan Keaweehu with her blazing speed and shutdown defense.”
Kahuku will play Kamehameha this Saturday and then finish the month with friendlies against local women's clubs, like the Lady Harlequins. Aloha 7s and Hawaii Ruggerfest will highlight March, and that's where Kahuku hopes to play Hilo Reign, Kona Bulls and newcomer Maui. The state championship is scheduled for April 14-15, and then a month later, it's nationals in Elkhart, Ind.
There is much to achieve in 2017, but now the Raiders have set some expectations. After three competitive trips to the mainland, Kahuku has an idea of its competition, and vice versa. Hawaii is one of the first spring-based states to play 15s, so the field will be keeping watch for the months to come.