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The USA U20 team is in excellent position to win their pool at the Junior World Rugby Trophy.


Given how late the program was in getting started for this tournament (and given how early the JWRT is this year), that in itself is a major accomplishment. The USA team, despite having several squad candidates not available due to college responsibilities, is 2-0 after beating Georgia 13-12 on Friday. Meanwhile, Canada, which had a much longer and, many would say, better preparation, is 0-1-1 and out of contention for the championship match.

USA Head Coach Billy Millard said his team left points on the field against Georgia, and seemed pleased with several aspects of play.

"We played field position very well," said Millard. "The forwards got over the gainline and Ben Cima dropped into nice pockets and put us in excellent positions. We also matched their powerful scrum and won the battle at the gainline on attack and defense."

Cima might have missed a couple of kicks at goal, but, Millard said, everyone on the team knows they gave up some soft turnovers in the Georgia 22. That's something they need to do better against Tonga, but not the only thing.

"Our green zone ball retention and execution needs to be more accurate," acknowledged Millard. "We need to come away with more points when we get into good areas. [And] our lineout launch needs to improve."

Millard made a couple of lineup changes after the USA shut out Hong Kong, and don't be surprised if he makes more for the game against Tonga as the coach has made it plain that effort in training gets rewarded with playing time.

And looking ahead to Tonga, the coach said there's much still to do.

"It is important we outwork them," said Millard. "We need to keep our shape and play at our tempo - heads down and grind away at them. Individually they have some great talent, so we need to play as a tight unit and play our game."