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USA Selects Come Back to Beat Canada A

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USA Selects Come Back to Beat Canada A

Cima logged 22 points for the USA Selects. Charmaine Chitate photo.

The USA Selects endured about 55 minutes of being the second-best team Wednesday, only to finish off much the stronger and pull out a 47-37 comeback win over Canada A in the Americas Pacific Rugby Challenge in Uruguay.

Former USA age-grade players Mike Te’o, Bryce Campbell, Nick Boyer, and Ben Cima helped spark the comeback, which saw the USA team go from 30-13 down to 47-30 up in the space of 15 minutes.

The game started well enough for the USA Selects, even though Canada took a 3-0 lead. From a lineout-and-maul, hooker Hanco Germishuys broke off the back and was almost in for the try from long range. He was hauled down by Canada A captain and scrumhalf Gordon McRorie, but the USA Selects support was there. After a series of pick-and-goes by the forwards, Boyer saw a tiny gap and zipped over for the opening try.

Cima hit the conversion for a 7-3 USA Selects lead.  and then the former Gonzaga HS star put over a 40-meter kick, from an angle, to make it. Canada A put the pressure on after that and scored a try to make it 8-7, but Cima replied with a 40-meter penalty from an angle for the 10-8 lad.

There followed a long period where Canada A was attacking in the USA Selects zone. Several times the Americans managed to get out of trouble, only to see trouble return. The best of the exits was wing Ahamad Harajly fielded a kick and smarty popped to Mike Te’o, and the fullback and captain took off, linked with Malon Al-Jiboori, and eventually set up a chance for Cima to kick free.

It was exciting stuff, but eventually the dam broke. After banging not he door for almost 20 minutes, Canada saw center Ben Lesage to the line. He was cut down before he could score, and appeared to move twice before touching the ball on the line - no problem said the ref and the TMO, and the try was awarded.

Penalties then turned USA Selects pressure in the Canada A 22 into a Canadian lineout new the USA line. From there, the Americans again rescued themselves, only to fumble a high ball that allowed Lesage to race in for his second.

Cima hit a penalty just before the break to make it 23-13 for Canada A at halftime.

In the second half, the USA was on the back foot almost immediately, and Canada A had a scrum five meters out that they were bound and determined to drive over for a try. But No. 8 Admir Cejvanovic was unable to control the ball at the back, and as McRorie picked it up, Boyer dove in the tackle his opposite number and jar the ball loose. Te’o was there to send it wide to Campbell and the Americans were out of trouble.

At least … they were out of trouble temporarily. After repeated scrum penalties, USA Selects prop Jake Turnbull was yellow-carded, and with the man advantage Canada took the lineout, and the maul, and set up flanker Lucas Rumball for a thundering run in for a try and a 30-13 lead.

But somehow things changed after that. The USA Selects team had basically had no attacking ball for the last 40 minutes or so, and thus couldn’t test the Canadian defense. Finally they were able to. Te’o broke through for a long run that led to a Cima penalty kick. Canada got a yellow card, and then after a very promising series of phases by the USA team, Cima made a half break, and then popped the ball inside on a reverse to Martin Iosefo, who needed no second invitation.

That try, with Cima’s conversion, made it 30-23, and we had a ballgame.

On the front foot again, Iosefo made a break. Then a nice flat ball to sub hooker Joseph Taufete’e put him through an opponent and in the clear. Te’o was on his shoulder and Taufete’e gleefully fed his former Belmont Shore teammate, and Te’o was off to the corner. 

The touchline conversion posed no problem for Cima, and the game was tied, 30-30.

And soon it was a USA Selects lead, as Cima sent a perfectly-weights grubber for Haraijly in the corner. The wing and Kainoa Lloyd seemed to get there at the same time, but after a long study from the TMO, it was adjudged that Haraijly, the former Dearborn Silverback, had got his hand on the ball and downward pressure. Try USA Selects, and the touchline conversion - need we even tell you - was struck perfectly by Cima.

Now it was 37-30, and Iosefo scored his second - Campbell breaking through and executing the two-on-one perfectly for his midfield partner. From 55 minutes to 70 minutes, the USA team had scored 31 points.

Cima slotted a penalty to ice the game at 47-30, and while Canada A had one more try, they had no more time.

In the end, it was an interesting lesson in what the USA Selects players can do with enough possession.

Of the players involved, prop Demecus Beach got a lot of work done, especially in the first half. Al-Jiboori and Germishuys were very active in contact and out in the open, as well. Christian Ostberg had some important moments at lock.

Bryce Campbell’s day mirrored that of his team. In the first half, he had a few difficult moments and mistakes, but in the second half he made things happen, and set up several tries with hard runs and good passing.

But the day probably belonged to Boyer, Cima, and Te’o. Cal All American Boyer was a physical presence at scrumhalf and played very well throughout. Te’o captained the team, kept them calm, and made several huge players. And Cima, when he’s on, which is most of the time, is as accurate and clutch a kicker as you’d want. When you need to mount a comeback, having a player who punishes penalties is really useful. In addition, having someone who makes every try seven points, even from the sideline, is also really useful. Cima did both. The USA Selects scored five tries, only one remotely close to the posts, and Cima converted all of them - all ten points (which was the difference in the scores, by the way). And Cima added four penalty goals for a total of 22. Add to that the fact that he directly set up two of the tries and you can see his impact.

Next up for the USA Selects is Uruguay A on Sunday. 

USA Selects 47

Tries: Iosefo 2, Boyer, Te’o, Haraijly

Convs: Cima 5

Pens: Cima 4


Canada A 37

Tries: Albornoz, Fraser, Lesage 2, Rumball

Convs: McRorie 2, Ferguson

Pens: McRorie 2



USA Selects
1. Jake Turnbull
2. Hanco Germishuys
3. Demecus Beach
4. Christian Ostberg
5. Harry Higgins
6. Malon Al-Jiboori
7. Cecil Garber
8. Sione Tu'ihalamaka
9. Nicklas Boyer
10. Benjamin Cima
11. Mataiyasi Leuta
12. Bryce Campbell
13. Martin Iosefo
14. Ahmad Harajly
15. Mike Te'o(C)

16. Joseph Taufete'e 17. Chance Wenglewski 18. Alex Maughan 19. Siaosi Mahoni 20. Pat Blair 21. Stephen Tomasin 22. Jean-Pierre Eloff 23. Brett Thompson

Canada A
1. Rob Brouwer
2. Ray Barkwill
3. Ryan Kotlewski
4. Lucas Albornoz
5. Conor Keys
6. Lucas Rumball
7. Matt Heaton
8. Admir Cejvanovic
9. Gordon McRorie (C)
10. Robbie Povey
11. Anton Ngongo
12. Doug Fraser
13. Ben Lesage
14. Kainoa Lloyd
15. Rory McDonell

16. Martial Lagain 17. Peter Houlihan 18. Ryan Ackerman 19. Adrian Wadden 20. Mike Sheppard 21. Andrew Ferguson 22. Patrick Parfrey 23. Guiseppe du Toit