Losing the final match of the three-game series between the All Americans and New Zealand Universities was tough to take for Head Coach Alex Magleby, but the coach was quick to look at the big picture.
“You’ve got to look at where we started this thing,” said Malgbey, whose team beat NZ Universities 60-17 and 21-11 before losing 23-20. “Overall, what happened in the past two weeks? Did we help continue to ID players that project to next level? Yes. Did players put themselves in position they could learn from? Yes.”
Magleby didn’t see his team’s best performance in the final match. The Americans dropped too many balls at key moments, and forced the issue when they could have been more patient. They benefitted from a short advantage call early in the second half on a play that led to the Americans’ third try, but were stung by some harsh and borderline calls the rest of the contest.
Magleby avoid discussion of the officiating, but did say “[it] wasn’t a sharp performance by any means. Credit to the Kiwis - they defended pretty well and were pretty tough at the breakdown. I am proud of the boys. They kept fighting and at the end maintained possession for all those phases at the end of the game. We just needed to maintain that structure and that depth.”
Magleby also demurred when asked to name outstanding performers, but several players did indeed show themselves well: Peter Tiberio scored five tries in the three matches, and was dangerous whenever he touched the ball; Ryan Roundy was excellent at getting the All Americans some go-forward, and his loss to injury after 30 minutes on Saturday was a big blow; hooker Zach Fenoglio was really strong both in the set pieces and on defense; Nate Brakeley emerged as a real prospect at lock forward; and Chris Saint, who had to play almost the entire series because the other scrumhalf, Shaun Davies, was hurt, did everything he could.
“We had a lot of pressure in our backline because of the injuries we had,” said Magleby. “But I am hesitant to single out anybody. It was a great assembly. We look at what we’re measured on, which is whether players go on to play for the national team, and so we’ll see how we measure up eventually. But we put players in a rep side environment to get them up to speed and while there were a lot of things that didn’t go quite well enough [on Saturday], we were able to do that.”