Pacific Nations Cup 2015: USA falls short against Samoa 21-16, Japan downs Canada 20-6

July 19, 2015

San Jose, Calif. -- The first match of the 2015 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup played in the United States got off to an exciting start on Saturday with Japan defeating Canada 20-6, but the night ended up a disappointment for local American fans, as the USA Eagles fell 21-16 to Samoa.

In the first quarter of the Japan-Canada match, Japan played a penalty-filled game that may have contributed to the largely pro-Canadian tendency of the crowd. The game's only try was scored in the 16th minute by Kotaro Matsushima -- a South African import to the national team.  A try for Canada in the first half was called back on penalties.

Canada seemed to have a brilliant chance at the 46th minute, but the interception was changed to a knock on by the referees. Instead, Japan tacked on 3 points in the 53rd minute.

Overall, Japan’s Captain Ayumu Goromaru converted five penalties throughout the day. Canada scored on a Penalty Kick at 61’, but two minutes later a Japanese penalty kick made the lead 20-6.

At the 75 minute mark, Canada’s open wing stepped to touch, causing a turnover on a series that seemed to be building toward a try.  Canada continued to have trouble along the goal line where the Japanese defense was most sharp.

Although Canada seemed to put on the bigger hits -- drawing cries from the 10,000 fans at Avaya stadium -- it was Japan that played the smoother and quicker-paced game as they cruised to victory.

U.S. vs. Samoa

Samoa struck first on penalties and was already up 3 when Patrick Faapale missed a long kick at the 8 minute mark. In the 11th minute, the U.S. almost broke into the open field, but the play was called back due to a knock on.

At the 21st minute, the U.S. was awarded a penalty to make it 6-3.  But two minutes later Patrick Faapale kicked again and was good this time to make it 9-3. The play also revealed how different rugby is than American football because while Samoa kicked for three, trainers attended to an injured USA player on the field.

The last 10 minutes of the first half was all Samoa, as Alesana Tuilagi, perhaps the Player of the Match, charged hard down the pitch for the first try, and later in the half had a near try when Ah See Tuala pitched the egg-ball to him in open field.

Newcastle’s Tuilagi returned the favor on the next play when he chip-kicked the ball to See Tuala who had lined up on the far wing. The try-scoring play resembled a “quick-out” pattern for a wide receiver in American football.

A missed penalty kick from U.S. flyhalf AJ Macinty at the end of the half ended a nightmarish 10 minutes for the Eagles, as they headed off to the locker room to regroup.

Macinty had better luck in the second half when he converted another penalty kick to make it 21-6. Tuilagi was penalized for a late hit on Scully, which from the press box almost looked like he was driven into the barrier wall in an Arena Football game.

Another penalty kick allowed Team USA to chip away at the lead, 21-9.  Later, as the U.S. banged away against the Samoan goal line, Titi Lamositele scored a try long awaited by the enthusiastic USA fans. The prop who plays club ball for the Saracens (one of the most storied Rugby sides in the UK) is only 20-years-old, and the try was his first for the national team. Expect great play from him in the years to come.

While the U.S. had a few chances to score in the closing 5 minutes, the 21-16 score held until the final whistle.

It was a disappointing start to a campaign which will see Team USA play seven matches in preparation for the World Cup. Given that Team USA will play both Japan and Samoa in group play at the 2016 Rugby Union World Cup in London, the loss was not a good sign.

The Samoa side that faced the U.S. was short of all but five of their players who played in a match earlier this month against New Zealand’s famous “All-Blacks” national team, losing by a respectable score of 25-16.

By Joseph Hammond
Contributing Writer for

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...