Rugby League in the USA has received further impetus as the national side builds up for the 2013 World Cup with a 38-20 victory over Ireland ‘A’ to regain the Donnybrook Cup and take a 5-3 lead in the overall series.
In front of a large, animated crowd at Widener University, Philadelphia the Tomahawks ran in eight tries to four as the visitors struggled to contain the powerful home pack.
The Wolfhounds had most of the possession in the first half and there were troubling signs for the Americans early when full-back Ashley Huck linked up with his winger Paddy James in his own half. The Irish flyer sliced through and with a number of teammates trailing in support the ball found its way to Sean Carmody, who crossed and goaled.
The Tomahawks responded In the 22nd minute when man of the match stand-off Luke Hume took a quick tap penalty and dived over, Matt Walsh levelling with the goal.
Ben Kelly made a successful return to the USA national side and his quick play the ball 10 minutes later resulted in a long range try between the posts from Vai Notoa.
The Irish responded four minutes later when a left side play saw winger Adam Hughes go over in the corner to make it 12-10.
The hosts extended their lead going into the break when Kelly crashed over out wide on the left with only seconds remaining in the half, the hosts going in 16-10 up.
The Wolfhounds started the second half intent on matching the physicality of their opposition but an attempted shoulder charge on his opposite number saw Irish winger James leave the field.
In the 44th minute Matty Haddon crossed out wide for the Wolfhounds, narrowing the deficit to two but the next passage of play saw Hume stamp his mark on the match. His clever kick on the last tackle resulted in a goal line drop out and in the resulting set he darted over from dummy half. Matt Walsh converted and the Tomahawks led 22-14.
Loose-forward Walsh extended the lead in the 55th minute but the visitors retaliated on the hour when Andy Brace got on the outside of his man to score, Carmody goaling.
The final 20 minutes saw massive Tomahawks centre Akarika Dawn take centre stage on his debut as he went in for two tries while having a hand in another as Hume completed his hat trick.
Ireland ‘A’ head coach Ged Corcoran was able to find some positives despite relinquishing his hold on the cup on St Patrick’s Day, “It’s a young side and we’re better for the experience,” he said. He also had high praise for the Americans, “they played a great structure and stuck to their game plan.”
Tomahawks captain Apple Pope was delighted by the performance of his side. “We had a shaky first half but for the second we stuck to the game plan and got the win,” he commented. “We knew Akarika could run hard lines and Luke knew that too. In the second half he got him the ball and that was that.”
Tries: Hume (3), Dawn (2), Kelly, Walsh, Notoa
Goals: Walsh 3
Tries: Carmody, Hughes, Haddon, Brace
Goals: Carmody 2
1 Kenny Britt, 2 Louis Tulio, 3 Keiki Misipeka, 4 Akarika Dawn, 5 Ian Elliott, 6 Luke Hume, 7 Damien O’Malveney, 8 Justin Ripley, 9 Apple Pope (Capt), 10 Andrew Kniesly, 11 Salesia Tongamoa, 12 Ben Kelly 13 Matt Walsh
Subs: 14 Sean Taylor, 15 Vai Notoa, 16 Kelly McGill, 17 John Dykeman
1 Ashley Huck, 2 Adam Hughes, 3 Andy Mc’Grory, 4 Joe Muchern, 5 Paddy James, 6 Sean Carmody, 7 Paddy Barcoe, 8 Benny Guilfoyle, 9 Joe Smith, 10 Mark O’Neill, 11 Alan Trenier, 12 Graham Taylor 13 Tommy Ratahi
Subs: 14 Paddy Boyle, 15 Matty Haddon, 16 Andy Brace, 17 Larry Pontyn, 18Cathal O’Reilly