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USA U20s Hold Off Uruguay in World Trophy Action

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USA U20s Hold Off Uruguay in World Trophy Action

Dom Besag gets some attention. Photo Evan Bootman SNS Group.

The USA U20 men pulled off something of an upset with a 32-15 defeat of Uruguay at the World Rugby U20 Trophy Sunday in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In a fixture that was very close in 2023, the game was expected to be tight this time, as well. And in some ways it was, as both teams scored two tries. In addition, as late as 55 minute in the score was 9-8. However the young Americans weathered a yellow card against prop Asbjorn Ross and a very good Uruguay scrum to come out winners.

Key for the USA was not making unforced handling errors, executing on lineouts, not getting smothered in the scrum, and being disciplined.

They delivered on much of that and their defense frustrated Uruguay so that in the final 10 minutes, when the Young Teros shoulder have been threatening, they instead saw the Americans take control.

Ben Saunders got the nod at flyhalf in this game and he claimed the first points seven minutes in with a penalty goal. Neither team was giving up much for the rest of the first half and while hooker Francisco Garcia did cap off some good forward work to touch down, and flyhalf Icaro Amarillo added a penalty goal 10 minutes later, there wasn’t much between the two teams.

Uruguay took that 8-3 lead into the break, having taken the three points when Ross was sin-binned. But that’s all Uruguay got out of the man advantage. And as the game wore on Uruguay started to get into penalty trouble. The USA team was smart and took points when they were on offer. Saunders was good for three at 49 minutes and again at 52.

Finally some space started to open up and twice the USA team found space on the outside: right wing Corbin Smith raced in for one, and a few minutes later Keelan Farrell on the left scored his 5th try of the tournament. Ollie Cline, on for Saunders just before the tries, converted one and suddenly the USA led 21-8.

Uruguay regained the momentum in the final quarter with a crucial try that put the score, with the conversion, at 21-15. Uruguay was back within one score. However penalties continued to plague the South Americans. Cline punished one infraction with a penalty, and then when wing Santiago Gini was sin-binned Cline took three again.

In the closing minutes on more penalty put it out of sight.

This was a nice little clinic in closing out a game for the USA, something they failed to do adequately last year and they struggled to do against the Netherlands in this year’s opening match.

Now at 2-0, the USA has improved on their performance from 2023, but they still have work to do. Next up is Kenya. A victory there puts the USA in the final.

USA U20s 32
Tries: Smith, Farrell
Convs: Cline 2
Pens: Saunders 3, Cline 3

Uruguay U20s 15
Tries: Garcia, Gini
Convs: Amarillo
Pens: Amarillo

USA lineup: 1. A. Ross; 2. C. Crist; 3. A Rosenmeier, 3. G. Engels, 5. B. Murray, 6. G. Pedegana, 7. R. Hahn, 8. L. Ballinger, 9. S. Huntley, 10. B. Saunders, 11. K. Farrell, 12. M. Threlkeld, 13. D. Besag, 14. C. Smith, 15. R. Santos

Reserves: 16. S. Smith (@58), 17. T. Wagner (@40), 18. L. Schaefer (@40), 19. B. Muller (@75), 20. D. Fortune (@54), 21. J. Berman, 22. O. Cline (@54), 23. D. Lowther (@60)

Also on Sunday in the World U20 Trophy, Scotland and Japan continued their torrid scoring run, with Scotland beating Hong Kong 101-0, and Japan beating Samoa 81-7. Those two teams are 2-0 and will face each other for the top spot in Pool A.

In Pool B Netherlands slammed Kenya 51-3 behind 16 points from Ilan Vaasen and two tries from Joris Smits. So Netherlands joins Uruguay at 1-1 while the USA is 2-0 and Kenya 0-2. The USA faces Kenya July 12 at 9:30AM ET.