USA overcome Northen rivals
Sun, 22 Jun 2014 07:35
The United States Eagles put an end to a winless streak against Canada with a thrilling, 38-35 victory on home soil in California.
The Eagles dominated possession in the first 10 minutes of the match and turned it into points when Canada was penalized for offside in the fourth minute.
Chris Wyles, who accounted for nine points in the Eagles’ loss to Japan last weekend in Carson, kicked the penalty goal.
Phil Mack was shown a yellow card in the 10th minute to knock Canada down to 14 players and Wyles’ left boot struck again to extend the Eagles’ lead to 6-0.
Brett Thompson, making his test debut for the USA after spending a couple of seasons with the Sevens program, got his first taste of the game in the 19th when he came on as a blood replacement.
Mack returned to the pitch in the 20th minute and made an impact to set up a teammate down the touch line for a big gain.
Thompson beat three Canadians to the in-goal to see the ball out before the opponents could get to it.
Canada’s sustained pressure over the course of a few minutes resulted in its first try. Mack took the ball from the ruck about 10 meters from the Eagles’ try line and sent a quick pass to the wing for Harry Jones, who dotted down for five points.
James Pritchard kicked the conversion to undo the early work by the Eagles and put Canada ahead, 7-6.
Todd Clever broke through multiple tackles in the 26th minute to set up the Eagles’ attack on Canada’s side of the pitch.
A few phases later, Shalom Suniula sent a wide pass to Wyles for a break before a pass to Blaine Scully.
As the wings hometown crowd cheered, Scully passed the ball back to Wyles, who managed to get within a metre of the try line before being tackled.
With his head up, Wyles found an onrushing Scully, who dove over to give the Eagles an 11-7 lead.
Pritchard missed his only penalty kick attempt of the match in the 30th minute after an offside call against the Eagles.
Danny Barrett found space between a few Canadians after the Eagles won a scrum in their own half and could only be stopped at Canada’s 22.
The attack continued and finished with Wyles in the corner for a try.
He converted his own try to extend the lead to 18-7, the largest Eagles’ lead since the victory against Uruguay in March.
With five minutes remaining in the first half, the Eagles were playing strongly and smart, which countered Canada’s ill-disciplined play throughout the opening 40 minutes.
Aaron Carpenter put a dent into the Eagles’ lead, however, after a few crash-ball phases on the home team’s doorstep Pritchard converted to bring Canada closer at 18-14.
Canada overtook the Eagles after a chip kick behind the defense was latched onto by Pritchard for a well deserved score.
His conversion put Canada ahead by three at 21-18.
The Eagles won the ensuing restart and looked to hold possession until the first-half whistle, but the referee offered little respite and Ciaran Hearn ran 60 meters for Canada’s fourth try of the half.
Pritchard’s conversion sent the Canadians into the change rooms in the lead, 28-18.
The second half did not start much better for the Eagles.
Barrett dropped a pass inside Canada’s 22 in the 42nd minute, giving Jones a free pick-up and run in for a try.
Pritchard converted Canada’s fifth try for a 35-18 lead.
Jebb Sinclair, whose ban for receiving a red card against Scotland last weekend was rescinded during the week, was shown a yellow card in the 52nd minute to give the Eagles another man-advantage.
Wyles kicked the three points to bring the Eagles within two converted tries at 35-21 and the Eagles kept up the momentum with big runs from Clever and Mike Petri.
The Eagles spent nearly two minutes trying to get over the try line and tired the Canadian defense enough to find space on the wing. In the 59th minute, Petri’s quick pass to Scully gave him his second try of the match.
Wyles’ conversion made the score 38-25.
Wyles kicked another penalty in the 67th minute to cut the deficit to four points.
On the restart, Tom Coolican charged down a clearance kick deep in Canada’s half.
He chased after the ball and was supported by Barrett and the rest of the energized Eagles, who played a few smart passes to the wing to give Thompson a debut try.
Wyles’ conversion put the Eagles ahead, 38-35, with 10 minutes remaining in the match.
The Eagles either kept possession or kept Canada within its own half for the majority of the final 10 minutes, but Nathan Hirayama’s run past the Eagles’ 22 gave Canada a lifeline.
Petri dragged the sevens star down to keep Canada out, but the field position was a boost to the Canadian attack.
Scott Lavalla was sent to the sin bin with almost no time remaining and Canada was in perfect position to notch the scoreline with a three-point penalty kick, but the rival went for the win.
The Eagles stood firm, however, and even kept ahold of the lead when Canada was given a second opportunity to go for points.
Canada declined the option, opting to either win or lose the match.
The Eagles stopped Canada at each attack and were elated when the referee blew the full-time whistle, signaling the end of the team’s two-match losing streak and seven-match losing streak to a bitter rival.
Either Canada nor the Eagles were in contention to win the IRB Pacific Nations Cup Pacific/Asia conference, but the Eagles take second place with the win.
For the USA
Tries: Scully 2, Wyles, Thompson
Cons: Wyles 3
Pens: Wyles 4
Tries: Jones 2, Carpenter, Pritchard, Hearn
Cons: Pritchard 5
United States: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Seamus Kelly, 12 Thretton Palamo, 11 Brett Thompson, 10 Shalom Suniula, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Danny Barrett, Scott Lavalla, 6 Todd Clever (captain), 5 Hayden Smith, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Olive Kilifi, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Nick Wallace.
Replacements: 16 Tom Coolican, 17 Eric Fry, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Louis Stanfill, 20 Kyle Sumsion, 21 Folau Niua, 22 Chad London, 23 Luke Hume.
Canada: 15 James Pritchard, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Connor Braid, 11 DTH Van der Merwe, 10 Harry Jones, 9 Phil Mack, 8 Tyler Ardron, 7 John Moonlight, 6 Jebb Sinclair, 5 Tyler Hotson, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Jake Ilnicki, 2 Aaron Carpenter, 1 Andrew Tiedemann.
Replacments: 16 Hubert Buydens, 17 Ray Barkwill, ,18 Jason Marshall, 19 Jon Phelan, 20 Kyle Gilmour, 21 Gordon McRorie, 22 Nathan Hirayama, 23 Nick Blevins.
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
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