By Robert Burgin, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 4/11/13
THE sun came out, a moderate Wrexham crowd provided one of the best atmospheres of the tournament and long-shots USA ran away with a 24-16 victory.
A day of surprises all round is set to leave its mark on global rugby league, with the tournament’s most populous nation on course to qualify for the quarter finals.
With a nation of 316 million riding on their back, the Tomahawks recorded their sixth successive win on the international stage.
The defeat of Wales followed a Game One win over Cook Islands and previous lead-up victories against France and Canada (three wins in four-match series).
Only two remarkable wins by the Cook Islands can dislodge the Americans from what seems their fate, a knockout showdown with tournament favourite Australia in a fortnight.
For World Cup co-host Wales the outcome was more bleak, now left to play for pride after two losses from as many starts.
One player who didn’t deserve to be on a losing side was Welsh backrower Tyson Frizzell, close to the most dangerous player on the park despite the scoreline.
Frizzell set an ominous tone from the outset, almost breaking the line on his first touch and then backslamming Tomahawks half Craig Priestly aggressively in defence.
Both teams were guilty of sloppy errors early, allowing each other plenty of opportunities inside the opposition half.
Wales looked to have made a tactical mistake by failing to take a penalty kick from well within range in the seventh minute.
Instead the home side went through the hands, only for fullback Rhys Evans to ignore unmarked winger Rhys Williams in a prime scoring opportunity.
They then became bunkered down at their own end of the paddock, with poor passing and kicking hampering their cause.
The Tomahawks looked destined to capitalise when centre Taylor Welsh found room out wide.
Yet the Chicago-based utility was left devastated after inexplicably passing into touch when either he or outside man Bureta Faraimo could have dotted down.
Wales seized the opportunity and almost immediately Frizzell made another big indent, allowing Rhys Williams room on the sideline, who then tipped on for Christiaan Roets to open the scoring.
With a vocal crowd behind them, the Welsh shot themselves in the foot by giving away a blatant penalty for taking out Matt Petersen on a bomb contest, just 10m from their line.
Tomahawks captain Joseph Paulo then drew scores level with a great flat pass to hard-running backrower Clint Newton.
After being unceremoniously upended Petersen seemed to be amongst everything, diffusing a tough two-on-one defensive assignment at one end, then putting the Americans in front in the 34th minute.
Petersen was another beneficiary of a Paulo rocket pass, crossing out to the left for an 8-0 halftime advantage.
The second half was all one-way traffic to America until the last five minutes.
Newton collected his second try of the afternoon, skipper Paulo dove over after big Les Soloai did remarkably well to regather a kick, then Tui Samoa darted across on an audacious run.
Samoa’s injection at dummy-half was pivotal in both halves of the game and it helped the USA jump to a commanding 24-4 lead up until the 76th minute.
As Welsh fans began leaving the stadium, Iestyn Harris’s men provided reason for them to retake their seats, blasting over for two tries in almost as many minutes.
The slightest hint of a miracle made the ground even more vocal than it had been all afternoon, but the desired result was not to come.
USA 24 (Clint Newton 2, Matt Petersen, Joseph Paulo, Tui Samoa tries; Joseph Paulo 2 goals) beat WALES 16 (Christiaan Roets 2, Anthony Walker tries; Lloyd White 2 goals) At Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium. Referee: Ben Cummins. Crowd: 8,019. Official Player of the Match: Joseph Paulo.