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The USA Selects outplayed Canada A in the second half and came back to win 47-37. The first half was dominated by Canada A, and well into the second half it looked to be Canada’s day.
At the 49 minute mark, Canada A was up 30-13, and the Selects had a prop in the sin bin for scrummaging infractions. However, the last 30 minutes belonged to the Selects.
The comeback effort was steered, in large part, by fly half Ben Cima.
The defensive errors that plagued the Selects against Fiji appeared early, helping Canada into good position, and setting up three points for Gordon McRorie in the fourth minute.
Things were bad for the USA Selects at scrum time against the Fiji Warriors, and they didn’t get much better in the first half against Canada A. Canada won a penalty at the first scrum, and were dominant for most of the match.
Canada was impatient in attack early, and a grubber kick inside the 22 was taken cleanly by Ahmad Harajly. The USA was able to win a penalty at the breakdown, and Cima kicked a lovely touch-finder to give the Selects a 22 meter lineout. From that lineout, Hanco Germishuys made a clean break which was followed by a patient build up by the USA. Finally, things opened up for Nick Boyer to score the first try. At minute 13, it was 7-3 with the Selects in the lead.
Canada was immediately given a chance to reply, though. A box kick by Boyer gave Canada a good chance to counter attack, and it was Doug Fraser who finished the movement with the try.
A few minutes later, USA managed to win a penalty from a scrum 40 meters out. Cima’s penalty goal attempt was good, and the lead went back to the Selects, 10-8.
Play stayed in Canada’s attacking half for an extended period of play, and eventually McRorie was given another chance at three points. From a handy location, he did not miss, and the lead went back to Canada, 11-10 with a little less than 10 minutes left in the half.
Those points, and the lead, were fair reward for a passage of play in which Canada was dominant.
From the restart, Kainoa Lloyd, who looked dangerous all match, burst through the USA defensive line and all the way into the USA’s 22. From there, the try was simple. Ben Lesage scored the five points, and McRorie converted. Canada widened the lead to 18-10.
Thanks to two penalties committed by the Selects, Canada was right back in the USA 22. Again, the pressure seemed to end in nothing when another grubber kick was handled by the USA. However, when Canada returned the USA box kick with an up-and-under, Bryce Campbell dropped the kick. The ball was toed through and Lesage scored another try.
Canada was up 23-10.
The final two minutes of the first half saw the Selects keep the ball in Canada’s half through some good skill in attack. Cima put a grubber of his own through and was bounced to the deck as he chased it. The Assistant Referee made the call for an obstruction penalty against Canada, and Cima slotted three more points to make the halftime score 23-13 in Canada’s favor.
Early in the second half, a Canadian try from a five-meter scrum seemed guaranteed, but the pack was moving forward too quickly and McRorie couldn’t handle the ball cleanly.
Things were still going Canada’s way, though, and Jake Turnball was sent off a few minutes later. The lineout following that penalty turned into a try for Lucas Rumball. The ease with which Rumball scored made it look like Canada was in full control of the match.
Canada was up 30-13 after 49 minutes.
However, when the Selects won a penalty a few minutes later, captain Mike Te’o wisely opted to give Cima the penalty goal attempt to make the score 30-16.
Joe Taufete’e came on as a prop, and the USA still struggled at the scrum, but they managed to salvage possession when they needed to.
When Ray Barkwill was yellow carded, likely for an intentional knock on, and the USA substitutions came on with fresh energy, the possible come back seemed a lot less crazy.
Martin Iosefo scored next for the USA. Cima made two good passes in the lead up to that try. At minute 58, the USA had six minutes with a man-advantage, and the Canada lead was back down to seven, 30-23.
The next try came from, in large part, Taufete’e and Te’o working together. Cima made the difficult conversion following Te’o’s try to make it 30-30.
Less than five minutes later, the Selects were over again. This time it was Ahmad Harajly managing to get pressure on the ball in the try zone from a Cima grubber.
Cima again made the difficult conversion to put the USA up 37-30 with 14 minutes left.
A Canadian error gave the USA a scrum 44 meters out. The Selects somehow managed to get the ball out of the scrum. Campbell ran straight over a defender and then passed to Iosefo who went over for another try.
With the conversion, USA was up 14 with just over 10 minutes to play.
Cima added another penalty at minute 77, and Canada scored one more try. Another good run by Lloyd set up Lucas Albornoz.
The final score was 47-37. The problems that hurt the Selects against Fiji did not magically disappear, but they certainly showed plenty of skill and ambition in this win.
Up next for the USA Selects is Uruguay A on Sunday.
USA Rugby Selects
1. Jake Turnbull 2. Hanco Germishuys 3. Demecus Beach 4. Christian Ostberg 5. Harry Higgins 6. Malon Al-Jiboori 7. Cecil Garber 8. Sione Tu'ihalamaka 9. Nicklas Boyer 10. Benjamin Cima 11. Mataiyasi Leuta 12. Bryce Campbell 13. Martin Iosefo 14. Ahmad Harajly 15. Mike Te'o(C)
16. Joseph Taufete'e 17. Chance Wenglewski 18. Alex Maughan 19. Siaosi Mahoni 20. Pat Blair 21. Stephen Tomasin 22. Jean-Pierre Eloff 23. Brett Thompson
1. Rob Brouwer 2. Ray Barkwill 3. Ryan Kotlewski 4. Lucas Albornoz 5. Conor Keys 6. Lucas Rumball 7. Matt Heaton 8. Admir Cejvanovic 9. Gordon McRorie (C) 10. Robbie Povey 11. Anton Ngongo 12. Doug Fraser 13. Ben Lesage 14. Kainoa Lloyd 15. Rory McDonell
16. Martial Lagain 17. Peter Houlihan 18. Ryan Ackerman 19. Adrian Wadden 20. Mike Sheppard 21. Andrew Ferguson 22. Patrick Parfrey 23. Guiseppe du Toit