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Day Two of the Youth Olympic division at the 2018 Las Vegas Invitational ended the same way for both the USA men’s and women’s sides. Both squads started with tests versus Canada and each team lost by a try. As the second seeds in the semifinals, the men and women dispatched their opponents setting up finals rematch in Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday morning.
“It’s always tough when you are facing Canada,” men’s head coach JD Stephenson said. “They are extremely good defensively and it’s going to be a tough egg to crack tomorrow in the final. Their set piece and the contact area, they won the collision against us. Generally, when you win the collision, you are going to win turnovers. They made the most of their opportunities with turnover ball this morning, full credit to a really well disciplined and well-organized Canadian side. Hopefully, a shot at redemption tomorrow.”
For the women, head coach Emilie Bydwell stated, “They put into practice what we talked about and now its just about making sure that when we have possession of the ball, we are taking care of it and really capitalizing on our possessions as opposed to letting Canada back into the game which is what we did in the second half.”
After Barbados beat Mexico 14-5 to start Friday’s festivities for the women, USA took the field played most of the first half in Canada’s territory. The pressure resulted in a Salotte Tausinga try for USA and a 5-0 shutout at halftime.
After the break, Canada refocused its efforts causing more penetration and therefore more points. Speed kills as Delaney Aikins raced around corner to take the lead at 7-5 and Taylor Black extended the lead to nine points with a try. USA could not find its footing in the second and fell 14-5.
For the men, the match against Canada was just as close. The USA got on the board first as Junior Waqavesi scored off a turnover on the kickoff. Canada answered with back-to-back tries to lead 12-5 at the half. Good ball movement by the Canadians resulted in tries in the corner for Glenn Butler and Dave Richards.
The second half started with the USA gaining the man advantage after a Canadian yellow card for a high tackle. The U-18 Eagles responded immediately when Waqavesi dotted the ball down following a great offload from a teammate to tie the game at 12-12. Canada was able to kill off the remainder of the card and once back at full strength, Richards sped down sideline for the eventual game-winner. The Americans attempted to mount a comeback but were unsuccessful losing 19-12.
As the second seed in the semifinals, the next matches were mere formalities for both sides although Jamaica gave the men some difficulty in their game. The men only led by seven points at the half against Jamaica, but ended the game with a two-try shutout second half. In the women’s semifinal, the USA pushed the pace versus Mexico for a 53-0 drubbing.
The finals for the Youth Olympic Games division begins at 10:38 AM for the women and 11:00 AM for the men.