USA and Jamaica turned on an enthralling contest to open the 2010 Atlantic Cup that ended in a 36-26 American victory in Jacksonville.
The game had everything from big hits, exciting tries, solid defense and even some controversy.
The Tomahawks opened the scoring in just the second minute when fullback Kenny Britt was put into a gap with a nicely timed pass by five-eighth Brent Shorten and he did the rest by running in under the posts untouched. A Nate Smith conversion gave the home team an early 6-0 lead.
Jamaica struck back within 10 minutes when center Greg Johnson got the first of three scores on the night to level things up.
In all, there were seven lead changes before the Tomahawks finished over the top of their opposition.
“It was a hell of a game man, both sides put everything out there,” USA captain Apple Pope told WeAreRugby.
“If you looked on the sidelines there were guys split open left and right, guys leaving the field left and right, and knockout hits. You know, it was just a hard fought battle from the beginning.”
The Americans led 16-12 at halftime after tries by Conway Maraki, who had a huge impact on the final result, and Britt with his second. Jamaica pegged one back through their hooker Jamain Wray, who was their best player and who also was at the center of a bizarre set of circumstances in the second half.
The scores were locked at 26-26 with Jamaica mounting an attack when the Atlantic Cup’s official medico and US team doctor went on to the field during a stoppage and suggested that Wray should be examined for a concussion.
There was a lengthy confab, the Jamaican team objected and referee Phil Bentham, who admitted later that he was surprised by the incident, ushered the doctor from the field and play resumed.
From his perspective, the doctor said that as the tournament’s medical officer, he was concerned about the player’s well being.
After that, the US took control and posted two more tries by Maraki and Sean Taylor to ice the game.
Two other Tomahawk tries were scored by center Matt Thornton and winger Nate Smith, who finished the match going 4-from-7 on conversions.
“It was a game that you would expect between the USA and Jamaica,” added Tomahawks head coach David Niu.
“We found a way and that’s the valuable lesson I think. If you keep trying the result on the field was good and was sort of indicative of what we do off the field as well.”
Jamaica will play Canada on Thursday night in the second game of the series.