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Purple Moose Media

The 2017 Americas Pacific Challenge started today with USA Selects playing Samoa A at the Estadio Charrua in Montevideo, Uruguay. Samoa won 48-26 in a match that featured plenty of American mistakes, Samoan opportunism, and an important red card.

The Selects kicked off and immediately won the ball back. Several phases inside the Samoa 22 ended with a knock-on. From the scrum, Samoa won a penalty, but the clearing kick did not find touch. The next several minutes saw some scrappy play and possession changed hands often and quickly. Eventually, a good kick from hand by Ben Cima gave Samoa a lineout deep in their half. A USA steal from the lineout led to a penalty against Samoa. Captain Peter Malcolm opted for the penalty goal attempt, but Cima’s kick was no good.

Neither side executed cleanly for the next several minutes. Eventually, a good run from the base of the scrum by Suamalie Tuiletufuga put the Selects under pressure and led to a breakdown penalty. Aukuso Fruean kicked the penalty to open the scoring. After 14 minutes, Samoa led 3-0.

Samoa won clean ball from the restart. Fruean kicked an up-and-under that was claimed cleanly in the air by La’aloi Leilua who then ran the remaining 40 meters into the try zone. Fruean’s conversion made it 10-0.

The Selects won possession from the next restart and then a penalty. The following five-meter lineout was won cleanly, but Samoa stole the ball at the first ruck. A few moments later, the Selects had another chance with a lineout inside 10 meters. This time, the Americans kept possession long enough to win another penalty. They opted for the five-meter scrum, from which they won another penalty. They chose to scrum again, and won the ball cleanly. However, a loose pass inside the Samoa 22 ended the immediate threat.

Things still looked promising, though, as a poor clearing kick from Samoa gave the Selects a 22-meter lineout. Another knock-on killed another opportunity. Samoa then won a second scrum penalty, and the clearing kick moved play up to midfield. A clean line break by Ionatana Tino from the Samoa lineout led to a try for Elisapeta Alofipo. Another conversion for Fruean made the lead 17-0 with just over 10 minutes left in the first half.

Another passage of back-and-forth ended with a good Cima kick putting playing inside the Samoa 22 again. The Selects stole their second lineout of the half and were finally able to turn possession and territory into points. The Americans put enough pressure on the Samoa defense to create a big hole for Tim Maupin to run through and score. Cima converted to make the score 17-7, with Samoa still in the lead.

A few minutes later, a crisp backline move from a USA lineout gave the Selects one more chance before the end of the first half. After several phases, Malcolm hammered over just after the halftime hooter. The Cima conversion was good to reduce the gap to three points at halftime, 17-14.

The second half opened terribly for the Americans. The Selects won the restart, but Samoa soon turned the ball over and one good offload from Ikifusi Matamu was enough to create space for Tiamu Viliamu to score a quick try. 24-14, Samoa.

Germishuys was shown a red for punching shortly after the next restart. He was at the bottom of a ruck and the assistant referee judged that he punched a player who was above him. That left the Selects a player short for the final 36 minutes. Samoa seized the match in the 10 minutes following the red card.

USA, shortly after, had a scrum on their own 22. The Americans looked to run on the first phase but turned the ball over and Samoa marched the short distance into the try zone. Tuiletufuga scored the try, and Fruean again converted to make it 31-14.

Samoa scored immediately from the restart. Tagaloa Fonoti sliced through the defense after the Americans failed to collect a bouncing ball and moved the score to 36-14.

The defensive chaos continued for USA as a lost scrum set up another Samoan try. This time, Tino was the try-scorer. After 52 minutes, Samoa led 41-14.

Samoa continued to look sharp, and an incisive first phase move from a scum near midfield moved play within five meters of the USA try line. The try was inevitable, and Rodney Tapu scored the short-range try. This time, Fruean’s conversion was good and Samoa’s lead was 34 points, 48-14.

Finally, the Americans had an attacking chance near the Samoa 22. Reserves Psalm Wooching and JP Eloff were on and involved, but the chance ended with a knock-on. A big hit on Tuiletufuga gave the ball back to the Americans. Good passing from Eloff, Bryce Campbell, and Zach Pangelinan created a simple try for Mitch Wilson. 48-19, Samoa still comfortably in the lead.

The Selects then enjoyed a passage of extended possession, marching down the pitch, and Campbell scored a deserved try. Eloff’s conversion was good to make it 48-26 with nine minutes to play.

The Selects continued to look the slightly more focused side as the match went on. Chance Wenglewski had a big run and the selects won a scrum about 10 meters out. The scrum was won and there was a chance for a try, but Pangelinan was held up in the try zone. From the five-meter scrum, the Selects stretched the defense and won a penalty. Tim Maupin went quickly, but, again, they could not cross. A pair of knock-ons gave the Selects another scrum chance. The Americans won a free kick and went quickly again. Samoa committed another penalty, and again the Selects went quickly. This time, the Americans could not hold onto the ball, and the match ended with Samoa kicking the ball into touch.

The Selects next play Uruguay A and then Canada A.

USA Selects: 1. Alex Maughan 2. Peter Malcom (C) 3. Angus McClellan 4. Matthew Jensen 5. Brendan Daly (VC) 6. Hanco Germishuys 7. Aladdin Schirmer 8. Jackson Kaka 9. Ruben de Haas 10. Benjamin Cima 11. Zach Pangelinan 12. Bryce Campbell 13. Tim Maupin 14. Mitch Wilson 15. Martini Talapusi 16. Alex Vorster 17. Chance Wenglewski 18. Huluholo Moungaloa 19. Brendan Hardiman 20. Psalm Wooching 21. Holden Yungert 22. Jean-Pierre Eloff 23. Lemoto Filikitonga

Samoa A: 1. Rodney Tapu 2. Noel Sanft 3. Tiamu Viliamu 4. Ikifusi Matamu 5. Aukusitino Ulugia 6. Mikaele Tapili 7. Joseph Fuimaono 8. Suamalie Tuiletufuga (C) 9. Ionatana Tino 10. Aukuso Fruean 11. La’aloi Leilua 12. Kaino Thomsen 13. Tagaloa Fonoti 14. Elisapeta Alofipo 15. Paulo Scanlan 16. Ripine Fualau 17. Tuaniu Tuaniu 18. Setu Enoka 19. Lester Sefo 20. Fili Setu 21. Melani Matavao 22. Ricky Pauli Ene 23. Iafeta Purcell