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The Men’s Junior All Americans fell 18-16 in a hard-fought battle with Spain Wednesday, seeing them end pool play 1-2 and in third place. They’ll face Uruguay Sunday for fifth place in the Junior World Trophy.
Spain was impressively physical, often winning the one-up contests. The Spaniards, who went 3-0 in Pool B, beating Namibia and Hong Kong comfortable before being tested by the USA, also displayed a formidable goal line defense. That, coupled with an insurmountable amount of unforced errors, sunk the Americans.
A bright spot for the U20s was again captain Hanco Germishuys, who scored a brace of tries against Spain, bringin his three-game total to six. He, along with Malon Al-Jiboori, were the only MJAAs capable of routine impact carries in attack. The JWT is employing an experimental scoring system, whereby tries are worth six and penalties two, in an effor to promote more attacking rugby. However, had the USA elected to take points on several of their attacking penalties, instead of go for the try, they may have been in it with a chance in the end.
The MJAAs had multiple early scoring opportunities go begging – an attacking lineout won by Spain, a knocked-on five-meter lineout, and Hanco Germishuys had the ball ripped from his grip inches from pay dirt. It took some defensive effort from the USA to keep Spain off the board early, too, with Brian Hannon ruining what looked like a sure try by wrangling a Spanish wing into touch inches short of the line.
The stalemate was broken near the 20-minute mark when Spain picked up a loose ball and turned a knock-on advantage into a try. The USA had just been awarded a penalty at the scrum and elected to toe through it instead of kick for territory, and the ball was knocked on in short order. Spain gathered and went the other way. Eventually it was the scrumhalf sneaking in right off the ruck for a try. Spain converted successfully, taking an 8-0 lead.
Errors kept piling up for the Americans, as another attacking lineout went unconverted. They won it clean, but Cima knocked the out pass. It was a rough start for him, having punted a couple of balls into touch from outside his 22. Spain forced an American penalty at the ensuing scrum and strung together a long phase to revers field position. The American defense would hold strong, though, and the half would end with Spain up just one try.
The second one came early after halftime. The USA was penalized for collapsing a Spanish maul, and a series of pick-and-goes saw Spain across the line to extend the lead. With the conversion, Spain led 16-0.
The USA finally got on the board midway through the second half after a series of penalties gave them another attacking lineout. This one they put away, with a short maul forming and Germishuys shooting off the back of it to dive over for a try, his sixth of the tournament. Cima converted, and the USA trained 16-8 with 19 minutes to play.
Germishuys nearly bullied his way over for a second try not long after. He gashed the Spanish defense with one run, and a penalty was called against Spain on the play. He tapped and ran at them again but was pushed out of bounds inches from the line.
The captain would eventually get his second score off a point-blank penalty play at the death, but not before Spain added a two-point penalty kick to make the gap that of two scores. Cima converted the second try, ending the contest.
Tries: Germishuys (2)
Cons: Cima (2)