All-Americans win, miss U20 Trophy qualification

EDMONTON, Alberta – Canada’s under-20s ended the AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans’ 2017 calendar campaign Saturday despite finishing off the two-match World Rugby U20 Trophy Qualifier series with a 27-25 defeat to JD Stephenson’s age-grade side at Ellerslie Rugby Park.

The All-Americans rebounded well from Tuesday’s 46-12 defeat north of the border, but did not have the gas to overturn the 34-point deficit needed to claim the spot on offer at the tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay. Canada wins the series with an aggregate victory of 71-39.

The All-Americans were given lifelines throughout the game as Canada’s scrum, previously dominant in the mid-week matchup, found penalty trouble under the keen eyes of American match official Mike O’Brien. Like they did Tuesday, the MJAAs found the scoreboard first with a penalty kick in the 11th minute.

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Canadian fly half Will Kelly missed an opportunity to level the scoreline moments later with a kick from in front of the posts, but it did not matter as a 10-phase possession started with an Anton Ngongo break was finished over the try line by Cole Keith, 7-3.

The Canadian lineout did not struggle in the first half, and turned over a 23rd-minute set piece to score points despite being penalized for a high tackle. Full back Aidan McMullan broke down the wing and dotted down in the corner through a tackle for a 12-3 lead midway through the half. He won a penalty five minutes later to give Kelly the platform for his first successful penalty kick, 15-3.

Christian Dyer and Cristian Rodriguez continued to cause problems in open play, but the All-Americans failed to convert their try-scoring opportunities early. Only after matching yellow cards in the 36th minute to Harley Wheeler and Canadian center and captain George Barton – for a tip tackle and retaliation, respectively – did Dyer find the try zone, finding his feet from a tackle to cut into the Canadian lead at 15-8.

The teams played beyond the 40th minute in the opening half, with Canada scoring from a late turnover as Rodriguez attempted to break free along the touch line. After the match official cut short a Kelly try to an earlier penalty against the All-Americans, Canada set up a lineout and maul for hooker Dewald Kotze to bring the halftime score to 20-8.

A skip pass outside the 10 two minutes into the second frame put Peter Howard in a position to score, and the wing stepped out of a tackle to do just that for a 20-15 score line. Canadian flanker James O’Neill nullified five of the All-Americans’ points with a try five minutes later, however, putting Canada ahead at 25-15.

Daemon Torres, scorer of one of the All-Americans’ three tries Tuesday, reached over to bring his side within five points in the 62nd minute, 25-20. After scrum half Ruben de Haas was shown yellow in the 71st minute the MJAAs went after the game-day win, with Torres finding the try zone for the third time in two games. That tied the game before center Samuel Walsh’s successful conversion gave the All-Americans their second lead of the day at 27-25, but there was not enough time to mount a monumental comeback of 32 points to earn a spot at the U20 Trophy.

AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans | v. Canada

1. Payton Talea

2. Jack Iscaro

3. Chance Wenglewski

4. Tommy Clark

5. Daemon Torres

6. Malon Al-Jiboori (C)

7. Jack Miller

8. Nafi Maafu

9. Ruben de Haas

10. Samuel Walsh

11. Peter Howard

12. Christian Dyer

13. Harley Wheeler

14. Deion Mikesell

15. Cristian Rodriguez

AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans | Reserves

16. Martin Keuchkerian

17. Brian Nault

18. Jake Jorstad

19. Bailey Wilson

20. Justin Johnson

21. Quinn Perry

22. Aaron Matthews

23. Lorenzo Thomas

Canada | v. USA

1. Liam Murray

2. Dewald Kotze

3. Cole Keith

4. Liam Doll

5. Matt Beukeboom

6. Lachlan Currie

7. James O’Neill

8. Jake Thiel

9. Fraser Hurst

10. Will Kelly

11. Elias Ergas

12. Josh Thiel

13. George Barton (C)

14. Anton Ngongo

15. Aidan McMullan

Canada | Reserves

16. Steven Ng

17. Connor Sampson

18. Nick Frost

19. Jamie McNaughton

20. Jack McRogers

21. Will Percillier

22. Brennig Prevost

23. Cole Davis

AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans | 27

Tries: Dyer, Howard, Torres (2)

Conversions: de Haas, Walsh

Penalties: de Haas

Discipline: Wheeler (Yellow), de Haas (Yellow)

Canada | 25

Tries: Keith, McMullan, Kotze, O’Neill

Conversions: Kelly

Penalties: Kelly

Discipline: Barton (Yellow)

AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans | World Rugby U20 Trophy qualifiers

v. Canada – L 46-12

v. Canada – L 25-20