Wednesday, October 12, 2016

USA Selects Comeback To Beat Canada 'A'

The USA Selects came back from 17 point deficit to beat Canada A 47-37 in Montevideo Wednesday. For the first 120 minutes of the Americas Pacific Challenge, the Selects gave up penalties, missed tackles and turned over crucial possession. Coach Ray Egan’s side finally clicked in the second half and flyhalf Ben Cima orchestrated a stellar comeback.

Canada A opened the scoring early with a penalty from the scrum that saw Gordon McRorie slot an easy penalty. The first half saw the Americans repeat many of the same mistakes from the Fiji defeat. A perpetual weakness, the American scrum, was the site of a half dozen penalties and free kicks. Loosehead prop Jake Turnbull was sinbinned for collapsing and the Canadians’ almost scored a push over try, were it not for Nick Boyer’s opportunistic defense. Open-field penalties also ensured that many American forays into the Canadians half went unconverted. The Americans struggled at times to resource their own ruck and Lucas Rumball took full advantage.

Take the jump to read more.

Nick Boyer opened the American scoring after a Hanco Germishuys linebreak. The half back sniped from the base of a goal line ruck to go over untouched for any easy Cima conversion. American ebullience was short lived as the Canadians broke through a soft kick chase from a box kick to see Doug Fraser across the white line. The Americans responded several minutes later by earning a penalty within Cima’s long-range and the young flyhalf dutifully put three more on the board to give the Selects a 10-8 lead. Halfback McRorie pinged back with another penalty to put Canada ahead once more, 11-8.

The Americans played with a much more aggressive defensive system and for the most part it worked in phase play. Many Canadians attacks were stopped by the quick line speed of Bryce Campbell and Martin Iosefo. Canadian flyhalf Robbie Povey identified this tendency and put a ball through around minute 30 for Ben Lesage to touch down. Several minutes later Lesage was the beneficiary of another weary American kick chase, and the center grabbed his second try to bring the score to 23-10. Cima added another penalty before the half, but the Americans went into the half in a familiar and potentially painful situation.

There is no shortage of athleticism and talent on the Selects, but their second-half adjustments speak a lot to their willingness to adapt as well as their character. It didn’t help that the Canadians scored another try after the half from the maul to bring the score to 30-13. Or that Turnbull was carded. But the Americans seized opportunity after Canadian hooker Ray Barkwill was yellow carded. Off a clean lineout, the Selects moved across the field and gainline, until Cima floated a pass Cecil Garber on the blind side. The flanker took the flat pass in stride and was brought down ten meters from the goal. Joe Taufete’e helped connect the next phase for quick ball. That leadership gave Ben Cima the opportunity to widen out and take a flat pass at pace. The flyhalf made a halfbreak outside his defender and put a one-handed offload into the hands of a Martin Iosefo running a smart line. The flyhalf converted and the Selects reduced the deficit to a mere 7 points.

Minutes later Mikey Te’o did a very astute Babe Ruth impression. The fullback returned a clearing kick and isolated a defender to put a team mate in space. Off the ensuing ruck, Te’o played scrumhalf to deliver a nifty pass to San Diego Breakers and Belmont Shore teammate Taufete’e. The big hooker shook one defender and delivered a soft pass to Te’o inside. The fullback hot-stepped his way past a scrambling defense for a try in the corner. Again Cima converted, and the Selects drew Canada A level 30 all. The Selects, relentless, took the ball several minutes later back into the opposition 22. Cima, displaying great awareness, toed grubber towards the in-goal and Ahmad Harajly barely beat two defenders to score. Cima’s conversion brought the American lead to 37-30.

Bryce Campbell, who impressed on debut against Fiji, was less than sterling on the day. He had several knocks and a few defensive lapses. But the Indiana University center showed tremendous strength off a scrum ball when he pancaked Doug Fraser with a fend-off. Straight through Cambell drew the fullback and put his pair Iosefo in for yet another try. Cima converted his easiest kick of the day, 47-30. The Canadians put in another try in the closing minutes, but the Americans comeback left their counter-parts dazed for 35 minutes. As a whole, the Selects displayed tremendous character to reverse the run of play of the first half. Germishuys provided a great platform with accurate lineout throws in his international debut at hooker. Special credit to captain Mike Te’o in attack, defense and the leadership to turn the ship around. But the man of the match was undoubtedly Cima. The young flyhalf was perfect from the tee and showed tremendous skill distributing the pill. The Selects will look forward to carrying on this performance to Saturday against hosts Uruguay A.

USA Rugby Selects

Tries: Boyer, Iosefo 2x, Te'o, Harajly 

Conversions: Cima 5x 

Penalties: Cima 4x 
Yellow cards: Turnbull

Canada A

Tries: Fraser, Lesage 2x, Rumball, Albornoz 

Conversions: McRorie 2x, Ferguson 

Penalties: McRorie 2x  

Yellow cards: Barkwill, Heaton