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Doctor Hawk Photo, Dennis D Hawk

At Talen Energy Stadium outside of Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, the Collegiate All-Americans played Oxford University, a match up with a long history. The match featured several lead changes, but Oxford ended the match in front, 20-18.

The All-Americans dominated possession and territory in the first quarter of the match, but still found themselves behind, in large part due to handling error and set piece problems. One positive early for the All-Americans was the play of Maciu Koroi who seemed to be everywhere.

The All-Americans kicked deep to start the match and quickly won back possession. Despite keeping the ball for several phases, they were not able to get through the Oxford defensive line. Oxford knocked on while winning a turnover, giving the All-Americans a chance to restart the attack from a scrum.

However, a turnover in first phase gave possession back to Oxford. Mitchell Wilson, who was strong all match, was tackled in the air while fielding a kick to give the All-Americans a lineout 45 meters out. Another mistake by the All-Americans from the set piece led to another Oxford scrum.

A free kick from the scrum and then an offsides penalty allowed Oxford to move into the All-American 22. The All-Americans were able to escape that danger, but Oxford was soon back in a good position. A good break by Tom Stileman and then better pass to scrum half Sam Edgerley nudged Oxford just over the try line for the first time. Conor Kearns converted to make it 7-0 to Oxford.

Oxford again struggled to exit from the restart, but an American knock on gave them the chance to clear via a scrum. The Americans were able to return the clearing kick well to keep play in the Oxford end.

Despite the possession and territory, the All-Americans did not look particularly sharp in attack until Kevin Sullivan made a break to ignite things. After several strong phases, the Americans won a penalty 10 meters out and opted for the penalty kick, made by Nick Boyer. After 25 minutes, Oxford led 7-3.

A few minutes later, Oxford had their sharpest attack in the first half and a try seemed certain before Cristian Rodriguez intercepted a pass and zipped 70 meters into the try zone. “I took a risk,” said Rodriguez. “I tried to bait him into it…and the ball popped right into my hands” Boyer missed the difficult conversion to make it 8-7 with the Americans now in front.

The restart went directly into touch, and the Americans won a breakdown penalty soon after the resulting scrum. Boyer’s penalty goal attempt was good to make it 11-7.

When Oxford next had possession, a dummy by Kearns put him cleanly through the line and Oxford into the American 22. This time, there was no try-saving intercept and Andy Saull went over in the corner making it 12-11 with Oxford in the lead shortly before halftime. Oxford kept the one-point lead at halftime.

Things started poorly for the All-Americans in the second half, and within five minutes Will Wilson scored from the base of a push-over scrum that started seven meters out. 17-11, Oxford.

All-American head coach Gavin Hickie made several substitutions early in the second half on the warm afternoon. The arrival of Holden Youngert at scrum half seemed to renew the Americans energy.

Zack Young, who had several near-line breaks, finally had a true break, part of a passage of play when Oxford’s defense was really challenged. Matthew Jensen ended that passage with a try. The try was created when Youngerts chipped and Young collected cleanly before the ball was moved to Chad Gough who kept the attack moving forward. Duncan van Schalkwyk converted to put the Americans back in the lead, 18-17.

Oxford then controlled the match for several minutes but was not able to score any points. From an attacking scrum in the Oxford half, the All-Americans won a penalty when an Oxford player came unbound. However, van Schalkwyk missed the kick.

After the miss, Oxford immediately put the Americans under pressure and won a penalty chance of their own. Kearns’ kick was good and the lead again went back to Oxford, 20-18 with seven minutes left in the match.

Moments later, a great dummy by Mitch Wilson put the Oxford defense into scramble-mode, but the defensive recovery was good and the All-American attack stalled after breaking into the 22. That looked to be the last chance for the All-Americans until an Oxford knock on gave the All-Americans a scrum in the final minute. Though the first phase was good and the attack looked promising, an All-American knock on ended the match.

“We just made too many mistakes,” said Peter Malcolm. “The weather wasn’t helpful—the ball was slick from all that sweat. But you can’t win rugby matches dropping the ball like that.”

“I’m very happy with the performance, individually and collectively,” said Hickie. The result is “very disappointing, but lots of guys put their hands up for the next level.”

Collegiate All-Americans

1) Kevin Sullivan 2) Peter Malcolm 3) Estevan Florez 4) Matthew Jensen 5) Matthew Lenaerts 6) Connor McNerny 7) Alec Barton 8) Maciu Koroi 9) Nick Boyer 10) Duncan van Schalkwyk 11) Cristian Rodriguez 12) Zack Young 13) Brady Gent 14) Marcus Tupualo 15) Mitchell Wilson 16) Alex Maughan 17) Chance Wenglewski 18) Brian McKeller 19) Chad Gough 20) Holden Youngert 21) Teddy Terezis 22) Gardy Lebon 23) Jake Lachina Non-numbered) Hugh McAllister, Blace Walser, Vetekina Malafu

Oxford University

1) Lewis Anderson 2) Ed Elvin 3) Kieran Ball 4) Lisiate Fifita 5) Hugo McPherson 6) Andy Saull 7) Will Thornton 8) Will Wilson 9) Sam Edgerley 10) Conor Kearns 11) Dan Moor 12) Alex Hogg 13) Dan Barley 14) Tom Stileman 15) Tom Hammond 16) John Aaron Henry 17) Noah Miller 18) Michael Gorry 19arlie Pozniak 20) James Beaufils 21) Tom Kershaw 22) Thom Foster