Canada v USA 2015

Despite giving away a glut of penalties and playing undisciplined football for big chunks of the game, Canada has beaten archrivals the USA 22-10 in their one-off international in Tampa, Florida.

Saturday’s game definitely had its moments, but for the most part, knock-ons, high tackles and loose passing by both teams marred what otherwise could have been an entertaining spectacle.

The Wolverines got on the board first within the first two minutes of play when fullback Blake Mahovic made a solo 80-metre dash from inside his own quarter to score in the left corner. The conversion attempt sailed wide.

The Hawks answered in the 12th minute when big forward Justin Branca powered his way across the try line. That score was converted by Mason McCrory to put the US in front by 6-4.

Six minutes later, the Canadians got their noses in front again when halfback Jacob Bourne scooted over the line untouched from a set scrum just a few metres out. He converted his own try to put Canada ahead 10-6 and that’s how the teams went into halftime.

Canada had the majority of possession for the second 20 minutes but couldn’t finish off promising movements, enabling the home team to stay in touch in what became an arm wrestle.

For the US, forwards Andrew Zuluaga and Malcolm Webb turned in some bustling, don’t argue hit-ups and they were ably backed up by right centre Ryan Burroughs, who, as he’s done throughout his entire playing career, gained a lot of metres every time he had the ball.

Early in the second half, the Canadians extended their lead when Nick Hails came off the interchange bench and finished off a long break out wide to score down the left flank. Bourne added the extras to see Canada move out to a 16-6 lead after 45 minutes.

However, the Hawks weren’t done yet and right winger Kevin Reed Jr closed the gap by scoring a questionable try in the corner some ten minutes later. The referee said it was good, but the conversion attempt missed, leaving the scoreboard showing Canada with a 16-10 lead as the game headed into the final quarter.

At that point, the Canadians started committing numerous infringements, putting extra pressure on themselves and giving the Americans a whiff of a chance to even the score, but in the 76th minute, the Wolverines iced the match when left wing Colton Carpenter broke free to dot down under the posts. Bourne added the conversion to give Canada what turned out to be a 22-10 victory.

Despite the loss, USA head coach Sean Rutgerson says there were some positives to take away from the contest.

“We’re disappointed. Obviously, we never want to lose an international match, but we still got a lot of good stuff coming out of it and we’re building towards the World Cup qualifications next year,” he tells Rugby League Planet.

“We had a lot of little, unforced errors that sort of cruelled us and ruined any continuity that we could have got. We strung together a couple of sets where our forwards just went forward and were making plenty of yards but there was nothing on the back of it because there was always a dropped ball.

“Canada was the same. They were just as rusty as us. We’ve just got to play more games.”

The win snapped Canada’s long run of outs against the US dating back to 2015. Since then, the Wolverines lost four straight against the Hawks until Saturday.

It also continued the Americans’ losing streak which now sits at four consecutive losses. The last game they won was against Chile in the Americas Championship in 2018.

RLP reached out to Canada Rugby League for their take on the game but didn’t hear back.

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Brian Lowe
Brian is a strong and effective communicator with more than 30 years’ experience in broadcast and electronic media. He has been writing for Rugby League Planet since 2012 and is frequently the first reporter to break news stories about the sport. He has been our North American correspondent reporting on news in the US, Canada and Jamaica covering everything from league standings to strategy analysis to breaking news on key trades to editorials and colourful features on athletes. He is now writing about rugby league on a broader scale to cover developments around the globe. An accomplished storyteller, Brian started his career in Australian radio, before moving to the United States. He is an experienced podcast host and producer and is also a successful TV commentator having done play-by-play and analysis for ESPN, FOX Sports and the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) among others.