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Fiji Warriors Run Past USA Selects

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Fiji Warriors Run Past USA Selects

Scrums were a difficulty for the Selects.

The USA Selects were thumped 62-12 by the Fiji Warriors in the opening round of the Americas Pacific Challenge at Estadio Charrua in Montevideo, Uruguay Saturday.

The Americans were more competitive than the score suggests, but struggled to contain a fast, elusive, and physical Warriors team - especially No. 8 Eremasi Radrodro.

Early in the game the Selects showed some strong defense and in fact stymied Fiji for a period. That defense eventually led to a penalty when captain and hooker Joseph Taufete’e pounced on a tackled player and referee Pablo de Luca of Argentina pinged the Warriors for holding on.

The USA team kicked for the lineout, and won the throw, but a floaty pass to prop Demecus Beach gave the Fijians time to swarm onto him. That, in part, would be the story of the day, as the USA Selects had scrums and lineouts inside the Fiji 22, but little mistakes cost them scoring chances.

Still, the Selects opened up the scoring when, from another lineout, fullback Mike Te’o grubbers ahead for wing brett Thompson. Fiji rushed back and somebody knocked the ball aside, where is bounced happily into Matai Leuta’s hands. The left wing had come across the field to fill in and ran nicely in support for the try.

But Fiji replied quickly, with some good ball-handling and the Americans clustering around one player too much. And moments later they just worked a break down one side of the field, playing good support rugby to take the lead.

From there, Radrodro continually tested the USA Selects defense with his running, and the Selects scrum struggled to stay legal and upright, forcing a series of penalties.

With the score 17-5 late in the first half center Martin Iosefo was yellow-carded for repeat infringements. Somehow, though, the USA held at the goal line and then broke out. Te’o found space and had Leuta on his left, but opted to keep the ball. He eventually passed but the ball was knocked backward as he was taken high. For a moment it was a big scramble, and center Bryce Campbell, who played very well not he day, raced in to knock the ball from as Vasikali Mudu was getting set to kick it. Thompson dove on the ball in-goal, but the TMO saw that Campbell’s hustle play had resulted in a knock-on. The play should have gone back to a high and late tackle against Fiji, but instead went for a scrum.

In the second half, the Selects went down two men when Beach was yellow-carded. And somehow they held on and in fact put Fiji under pressure. After a series of drives to the line by the forwards, scrumhalf Stephen Tomasin looked left, then right, saw nothing promising, and zipped through a gap in front of his face to score. That made it 24-12. But the rest of Beach’s time in the bin was all Fiji, as they exploded for two tries. 

Tired, and a little ragged, the Selects had trouble keeping their defensive shape, and the Warriors got a penalty try and several more to win 62-12.

There were bright spots, but the Selects looked like what they are - a disparate group of players who are fairly new to international rugby and don’t know each other. Defensively they bunched up or lost their alignment too often, and at critical moments they misfired on set piece.

Among the international newcomers, Indiana University’s Campbell looked good at center, and BYU’s Matt Jensen certainly had his moments. For the most part, it was the players with some Eagle time on their resume who seemed more at ease. 

Also in the Americas Pacific Challenge, Samoa A won a wild one 44-43 over Uruguay A, and Argentina XV beat Canada A 56-27.

USA Selects 12
Tries: Leuta, Tomasin
Convs: Eloff

Fiji Warriors 62
Tries: Tovilevu, Hickes, Radrodro 2, Doge, Veitokani, Penalty Try, Mudu, Nadruka, Daveta
Convs: Veitokani 6

 

USA Selects
1. Mason Pedersen
2. Joseph Taufete'e (c)
3. Demecus Beach
4. Siaosi Mahoni
5. Matthew Jensen
6. Harry Higgins
7. Pat Blair
8. Sione Tu'ihalamaka
9. Stephen Tomasin
10. Jean-Pierre Eloff
11. Mataiyasi Leuta
12. Martin Iosefo
13. Bryce Campbell
14. Brett Thompson
15. Mike Te'o

Reserves (all reserves were used except possibly Nick Boyer)
16. Hanco Germishuys
17. Chance Wenglewski
18. Alex Maughan
19. Christian Ostberg
20. Malon Al-Jiboori
21. Nicklas Boyer
22. Benjamin Cima
23. Ahmad Harajly