October 11, 2016
USA Rugby Selects Beat Canada A in the Americas Pacific Challenge
The USA Rugby Selects beat Canada A 47-37 today after storming back in the second half to win at the Americas Pacific Challenge in Montevideo, Uruguay. With the win, they evened their record to 1-1, as they lost on Saturday October 8th 62-12 to the Fiji Warriors. Canada falls to 0-2, as they also lost their first match 56-29 to Argentina XV.
For the match against Canada, the USA made 8 changes in their starting XV. Five of the changes were in the forwards with 4 of them in the tight five, the other was a flanker, while Harry Higgins also went from flanker to lock. In the backs, a change was made at scrumhalf, flyhalf and wing. Mikey Te’o captained the side.
Canada took advantage of an early infraction as Gordan McRorie slotted a penalty kick to take the early lead 3-0 at three minutes. The USA Selects then came back and after 7-8 forward picks, Nick Boyer went weak for a try. Ben Cima was on fire with his foot on the day and converted for a 7-3 lead at eleven minutes.
On the restart Matt Heaton found a gap and offloaded to Doug Fraser for a 50 meter try. McRorie converted and Canada regained the lead 8-7. The lead once again changed hands after a Rob Brouwer penalty that resulted in Ben Cima penalty kick for the USA to lead 10-8.
Kainoa Lloyd found a seam in the Selects defense and after the USA was penalized, McRorie slotted a penalty kick to regain the lead 11-10 with ten minutes left before halftime. Once again Lloyd took the restart and and reached to within 10 meters of the line before Ben Lesage finished the job and went in for a try. McRorie added the conversion and Canada now led 18-10. Lesage then added a second try, but McRorie’s kick was just left. Still Canada had the momentum and a 23-10 lead.
It looked like Canada would take a 23-10 lead into halftime, but an infraction gave Ben Cima another opportunity to kick for points and he narrowed the score to 23-12 at halftime.
The USA forwards were tested in the first half in the scrums, as they often were back peddling. The defensive line speed improved from the first match and the centers were making a difference.
During the second half the USA was penalized for another scrum collapsing. At 47 minutes, Jake Turnbull was sent to the bin for repeat infractions. A minute later, Canada’s Lucas Rumball went in for a try from a maul. With McRorie’s conversion, Canada led 30-13.
The USA started to claw their way back into the match after Cima slotted another penalty kick. It was then Canada’s turn to send a player to the bin. Ray Backwell seemingly may have intentionally knocked the ball on and was issued a yellow at 55 minutes.
The USA went on the attack and Martin Iosefo went in for a try and with Cima’s conversion the score was 30-23 two minutes later. On the restart, Iosefo broke through the line and into Canada territory. A short while later, Brett Thompson found some space and offloaded to Joe Taufete’e and quick hands to Mikey Te’o had Te’o dving in for a try in the corner. Cima was perfect on the day and slotted the ball from touch to even the match at 30 all. The Selects had come from 17 points down and Canada was rattled.
The Selects were not done with their scoring as Bryce Campbell rambled to within 10 meters and a Cima grub kick was chased down by the USA’s Ahmad Harajly and Canada’s Ben Lesage. Harajly hand went in the air to signal for a try, however a TMO was needed. After several angles were viewed, the referee awarded the try and Cima converted for a 37-30 lead with fifteen minutes remaining.
Canada was back at full strength, but the Selects were not finished with their second half assault. Campbell found a gap and offloaded to Iosefo for another try and with the conversion the score was 44-30.
With five minutes left in the match, Matt Heaton was sent to the bin and Cima added a penalty kick for a 47-30 lead. Although Canada’s Lucas Albornoz would add a try and Andrew Ferguson a conversion, the match ended with the Selects winning 47-37.
The USA stormed back from a 30-13 deficit at halftime and with 34 consecutive points prior to Canada’s last score, salted away the win.
On Sunday October 16, the Selects will play their final match of the Americas Pacific Challenge against Uruguay A at 1:15pm ET. Canada will play Samoa that day.