The USA Selects defeated the Canada Selects 30-10 in Round Two of the Americas Rugby Championship, putting both teams at 1-1.
This was undoubtedly one of the best performances by a USA senior men's 15s team in some time.
Canada began the game on the front foot, pinning the Americans in their own 22 for most of the first ten minutes.
But despite some hard running and good recycling in the breakdown, the Canadians could not break the USA defense, which didn't always hit before the gain line, but did put runners on the ground.
After a very long period in the USA 22, Canada got a penalty when the Americans turned the ball over, but sealed off in the next ruck. Young flyhalf Guiseppe Du Toit knocked the kick over, and Canada led 3-0.
But right after that the USA got on the front foot. Cam Dolan regain the kickoff, and from a scrum got a free kick. The USA went wide, but also showed they can use forwsrds as runners wide of the ruck. Lock Tai Tuisamoa was almost free, but was just dragged down. The USA recycled quickle and a planned backline move sent wing Tim Maupin up the middle for a try under the posts.
Fullback Joe Cowley slotted the conversion and the USA led 7-3 and would not look back.
Canada did make attempts to get back on the front foot, and used wing Jordan Wilson-Ross. His best run was gathered in by Dolan, who was monstrous on the evening, and that tackle eventually led to a USA penalty, which Cowley hit for a 10-3 lead. Not long after that the Americans were once again the Canadian territory. This time, lock Kyle Baille of Canada was given a yellow card for a professional foul, and Cowley made it count with three more points.
Canada did well to try to mitigate being a man down, and held onto the ball for much of the next ten minutes. But the USA defense was not only accurate in their tackling, it was extremely physical. That physicality started to force knock-ons, and the Americans chose to attack whenever they could.
Maupin was especially dangerous in this regard. But they did squander a good scoring chance at about 33 minutes, and the optimistic Canada fans might have thought this was a turning point. The half ended with the USA up 13-3, which didn't, at the time, seem like enough.
Dolan gathered the second half kickoff and after a sloppy back-and-forth, Canada was offside on a knock-on. Cowley thumped over the 46-meter attempt, and now it was 16-3.
Now the true turning point. Down two scores, Canada mounted a furious attack and earned a penalty in the USA half. They took the lineout and mauled it before sending the ball out to the backs. Du Toit's pass was a little low for center Connor Trainor, and he used his boot to send the ball in-goal. Trainor looked good to chase in for a try, but out of nowhere Danny Barrett flew in to touch the ball down.
Moments later, on another USA penalty, Du Toit signelled for posts. But no one could find his kicking tee. The Canadians said they would instead kick for touch, but you're not allowed to do that - once you say you're going for posts, you have to go for posts. Du Toit hastily kicked a ball teed up by a teammate and missed.
From that 22 dropout, Derek Asbun turned the ball over in contact, and Mile Pulu and Dolan sent the ball quickly to Barrett on the wing, and the former Cal star did the rest, fending off a tackler to go 50 meters for a try that essentially decided the game.
Cowley stuck the knife in deeper by kicking the touchline conversion, and suddenly the USA led 23-3.
After that it was a case of holding on. Sub Canada wing Joe Dolesau scared everyone with some spicey runs, and he almost scored were it not for
Eventually Canada did score, with Trainor finishing a long period of pressure on the USA line. But time was running out.
With time running out, a thundering hit from sub prop Titi Lamositele popped the ball loose and soon Chris Chapman was off to the line. Just taken down, Chapman found Maupin running in support, and that was it.
Cowley, of course, slotted the conversion from the touchline - he hit conversions from both sides on the night - and that was it, 30-10.
In the end, Canada was badly undone by knock-ons, some forced by an aggressive USA defense, and some not. The USA effort was marred by a less-than-perfect lineout, but was highlighted by a very physical approach in contact.
Shaun Davies was the spark plug at scrumhalf, his second strong game in a row. Toby L'Estrange looked more comfortable at flyhalf, and everyone looked more comfortable with the game plan. Cowley's calm was admirable and Dolan was almost unstoppable in the air.
Several players show improvement, notably Barrett and Asbun at flanker, but the man who made it happen was Maupin, as he scored two tries, set up more points with some early runs, and saved a try with a flying tackle near the end of the game.
"I couldn't be prouder of the boys," said game day captain Phil Thiel after the match. "Canada played hard but we made fewer mistakes."
USA Selects 30
Tries: Maupin 2, Barrett
Convs: Cowley 3
Pens: Cowley 3
Canada Selects 10
Convs: Du Toit
Pens: Du Toit
|1 Nick Wallace
||1- Doug Wooldridge
|2 Phillip Thiel
||2- Ray Barkwill
|3 Chris Sullivan
||3- Ryan March
|4 Tai Tuisamoa
||4- Henry (Hank) McQueen
|5 Graham Harriman
||5- Kyle Baille
|6 Daniel Barrett
||6- Kyle Gilmour
|7 Derek Asbun
||7- Alistair Clark
|8 Cameron Dolan
||8- Adam Kleeberger
|9 Shaun Davies
||9- Sean White
|10 Toby L’Estrange
||10- Guiseppe Du Toit
|11 Tim Maupin
||11- Jordan Wilson-Ross
|12 Mile Pulu
||12- Mike Scholz
|13 Chris Chapman
||13- Conor Trainor
|14 Peter Moala
||14- Duncan Maguire
|15 Joe Cowley
||15- Jack Fitzpatrick
|16 Cameron Falcon @ 74 for Thiel
||16- Micha Gorvorchin
|17 Shawn Pittman @ 40 for Sullivan
||17- Djustice Sears-Duru
|18 Titi Lamositele @74 for Wallace
||18- Jake Illnicki
|19 John Cullen @ 62 for Tuisamoa
||19- Callum Morrison
|21 Trevor Cassidy @ 73 for Harriman
||20- Matt Heaton
|20 Chris Saint @ 74 for Davies
||21- Jamie Mackenzie
|22 Maximo De Achaval @78 for Pulu
||22- Adam McQueen
|23 Mark Roberts @ 62 for Moala
||23- Joe Dolesau