Game 1 of the two-game series between the USA and Canada Men's U20s ended on the Canadian side of the ledger, 44-33, but there's still one more game to play at Shawnigan Lake, BC.
The winner of this series will play in the World Rugby U20 Trophy competition, and lately this has been Canada's series. This year, the USA team has a talented squad and some solid planning behind it, but the Canadian team has talent, too, and has been together a little bit longer.
Canada started off stronger, exerting power in the scrum and using that to their advantage. A scrum at midfield produced a penalty for Canada and they then attacked off a lineout to set up Avery Oitoman on a snappy backline play. Scrumhalf Will Percillier missed the conversion but added a penalty some minutes later for an 8-0 lead.
The USA responded, launching a box kick from Ethan McVeigh for Ryan James to chase. But the Canadian cover just got there to knock the ball dead—potentially a penalty but instead a 22 dropout.
Canada made the dropout pay off. A very deep kick set up a lineout for the USA. But Canada stole the ball back, attacked wide again, and David Richard cut through. Percillier was good on the conversion and it was 15-0.
Percillier then showed he can run with it, too. Richard went on a big charge, and then popped off the ground for the scrumhalf to finish it off. 20-0. It wasn't until the 27th minute that the USA got on the scoreboard. With a kickable penalty in the Canadian half, captain Bailey Wilson opted for the kick to touch. From the lineout, hooker Jack Manzo got the ball at the back of the maul and peeled off to get over. Mike Weir was good with the extras.
Canada replied almost immediately with a long, winding run from Percillier. Then just before halftime, the USA forwards put on the pressure, and from a penalty McVeigh tapped quickly and stretched over. Weir's converted to make the halftime score Canada 25 USA 14.
The USA started well in the second half. Still playing a somewhat simple game, usually charging up after just one pass, they still asked questions of the Canadian defense. Eventually a breakthrough from lock Asa Carter set up a ruck, and fullback Sam Walsh, stepping in at first receiver, slipped through. With Weir's conversion it was now 25-21.
And soon the USA had the lead as Weir raced in to make it 28-25.
But a couple of key turnarounds scuttled hopes for the USA. The Americans had the ball on attack but a fairly unforced knock-on gave Canada a scrum. From their they got a penalty, took the lineout, and then Quinn Ngawati charged through to score. Manzo was fortunate not to exacerbate losing the lead as he interrupted the Canadian celebration with a few pushes for some unseen slight.
Nevertheless, Canada had the lead back at 32-28.
Once again, the Americans ceded momentum. With the ball and running the phases, they knocked the ball on at the base of the ruck. Canada attacked from the ensuing scrum and Ngawati saw three USA players charge him. He sidestepped them all and had a mostly free run to the corner. On the chase, Weir pulled up lame and was replaced.
After a series of phases, Canada put Gabrial Casey over to make it 44-28. The USA started to open up its attack and Wilson made a huge play, cutting back against the grain from 25 meters out to score.
The USA almost had one more. Manzo was on the charge but was brought down a meter from the line. Canada counter-rucked, won the ball, and kicked the ball dead to end the game, Canada 44 USA 33.
All of those tries were crucial as the series is about aggregate score. Down 11 going into Satuday's second game, the USA has shown it has the firepower to make that up. But defensively, and in the scrum, they looked vulnerable. The loss of Weir is a worry, especially in the goalkicking, but it might prompt head coach Scott Bracken to slot Junior Waqavesi into the #10 jersey, which is where he shines.
For Canada, their tight five worked very hard, and Percillier was superb.
Tries: Oitoman, Richard, Percillier 2, Ngawati 2, Casey
Convs: Percillier 2, Ngawati
Tries: Manzo, McVeigh, Walsh, Weir, Wilson
Convs: Weir 4
|Canada U20s Roster||USA U20s Roster|
|1. Stefan Zuliani, Queens University, Ontario||1. Jack Wiles||St. Bonaventure|
|2. Jared Augustin, Queens University, Ontario||2. Jack Manzo||University of California|
|3. Tyler Rowland, UBC, Ontario||3. Jared Miller||Life University|
|4. Frank Carson, UBC, BC||4. Sam Golla||University of California|
|5. Tyler Duguid, Edmonton Nor’westers, Alberta||5. Asa Carter||Arkansas State|
|6. Quentin James, Stade Francais, BC||6. Chase Jones||Saint Mary's|
|7. Will Matthews, Beaconsfield RC, Quebec||7. Miles McCormick||OMBAC/St. Augustine|
|8. Nick Carson, UVIC, BC||8. Bailey Wilson (C)||Utah Valley University|
|9. Will Percillier, Stade Francais, BC||9. Ethan McVeigh||Cardiff Metropolitan University|
|10. Brock Webster, Oshawa Vikings, Ontario||10. Mike Weir||Dartmouth College|
|11. David Richard, Mississauga Blues, Ontario||11. Inoke Waqavesi||USA Sevens Residency|
|12. Quinn Ngawati, Westshore RFC, BC||12. Lauina Falatea||USA Sevens Residency|
|13.Gabriel Casey, UVIC, Ontario||13. Jack Wendling||Central Washington|
|14. Jarvis Dashkewytch, UVIC, BC||14. Ryan James||San Diego Legion|
|15. Avery Oitomen, Toronto Arrows, Ontario||15. Sam Walsh||University of California|
|16. David Carson, UBC, BC||16. Braden Looper||University of Arizona|
|17. Josh Tweed, UBC, BC||17. Doug Mitchell||Central Washington|
|18. Guerschom Mukendi, Stoney Creek RC, Ontario||18. Alex Lopeti||Life West Gladiators|
|19. Reid Davis, James Bay AA, BC||19. Matt Gelhaus||Kutztown|
|20. Mason Flesch, James Bay AA, Ontario||20. Chris Noggle||Santa Barbara Academy|
|21. JT Boehme, James Bay AA, BC||21. Jeff Peleseuma-Breiz||SFGG|
|22. James Biss, Saracens, England||22. Cole Semu||BYU|
|23. Thomas Isherwood, Westshore RFC, Alberta||23. Jasper Green||Dartmouth College|
|24. Siaki Vikalani, Burnaby, BC||24. Will Vakalahi||DC Old Glory|
|25. Antoine de la Fontaine, Sherbrooke Abenakis, Quebec||25. Luke Freeman||University of California|
|26. Austin Pinnell, Edmonton Nor’westers, Alberta||26. Royce Fisher||Santa Barbara Academy|