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HSAA Team Finishes 8th at Euros

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HSAA Team Finishes 8th at Euros

The High School All Americans finished last in the European U18 Championships, losing to Canada 13-12 in the final game of the tournament.

France won the tournament, with Georgia 2nd, Japan 3rd, Portugal 4th, Spain 5th, and Belgium 6th.

The USA team had plenty of opportunities to win the game, but key execution errors, which had plagued them throughout the tournament, plagued them again. The HSAA team had an early try-scoring opportunity off a grubber by flyhalf Quinn Perry. Wing Ryan James and fullback Eric Naposki-Abdullah chased well, and when Canadian fullback Gabriel Casey defender failed to fly-hack the ball to touch, it was there to be picked up. But Naposki-Abdullah elected to nudge the ball ahead with his foot, and it rolled into touch.

Canada took an early 3-0 when the USA players were guilty of a ruck infraction. William McDougall-Percillier slotted the goal. The HSAA missed a kick in front of the posts, and then also had another promising run, started by Garrett Kay at lock. James, scrumhalf Conor McManus, Kay again, and lock Asa Carter were involved in the movement, and Carter came very close to scoring. But eventually the Canada defense held and they got out of it.

Soon thereafter, though, Bailey Wilson set up James for a long weaving run down the sideline and a try. James curved around to make the kick easier, but it didn't help and the conversion was missed. The game remained 5-3 into halftime.

In the second half, Canada hit quickly. A poorly-chased 22 dropout by the HSAA team allowed McDougall-Percillier to cut right through the entire HSAA team and score near the corner. He slotted the conversion and Canada led 10-5. Soon thereafter McDougall-Percillier hit a penalty to make it 13-5.

The HSAA team had some promising attacks, but had all sorts of problems at the point of contact. On defense, they had difficulty stopping Canada on the first hit - especially hard-charging center James Newman. Being smaller the HSAA team needed to chop the Canada runners down at the ankles, and instead they went high, trying to rip the ball free. The result was they got dragged along for the ride.

Still they had their chances. A penalty right in front of the posts was missed, which didn't do much for their chances. But then hooker Gabe Mahuinga saw the ball sitting alone at the back of a Canadian ruck and no one there to claim it. Mahuinga grabbed it and rumbled 15 meters for a try. The kick was good, and the score sat at USA 12 Canada 13.

But Canada ramped up the physicality and held on.

Overall, it was not the HS All American team's finest hour. Hit by injuries, they didn't show a lot of smoothness in the backline. Defensively they had a decent tournament, although their tackling against Canada could have been better, but offensively things just didn't come together. And the goalkicking never got on track. Head Coach Salty Thompson used at least three different kickers, possibly four, and not one had a good tournament. At least four kicks right in front of the posts were missed during the tournament.