USA Rugby vs. Maori All Blacks at PPL Park

USA Rugby took on the Maori All Blacks of New Zealand in front of a sold out and enthusiastic crowd of 18,000+ at PPL Park on Saturday, November 9th. Maori is a team with lineage dating back to 1888 and a history of being one of the most successful sporting teams in history, winning over 300 matches while only ever suffering losses to three nations. Maori had not taken on the US since 2006 (twice handing the USA Eagles losses including the largest win in Maori history 74-6). This USA Rugby vs. Maori All Blacks match was the first time a team of such caliber and history had played on US soil. Maori is made up of players with Maori lineage. The New Zealand All Blacks are the national team and are ranked #1.

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The American supporters on hand drowned out the famed Maori Haka before kickoff, setting the tone for the evening. The Eagles produced a team with size and speed that helped push New Zealand to the final minutes of a thrilling match. Captained by Todd Clever, a fixture in American rugby for the last ten years, and anchored by Life college’s talented No. 8, Cam Dolan (who was named Man Of The Match), the Eagles punished the Maori off the ruck and forced some sloppy passing. Showcasing their size (Americans front pack out weighed Maori by close to 10 Lbs a man) and penchant for hard hits, the US opened the first half  leading 9-7.

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Clever was sent off in the 2nd half for a bit of blood and wound repair; a reward for hard work across the pitch on both sides of the ball. Kyle Sumsion, Clevers temp replacement, was grateful for the quick return of the Captain as Sumsion collided with Maori No. 8 Blade Thomson, leaving the young Eagle dazed and but ultimately okay.

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Maori skipper Tim Bateman did the real damage to the USA by scoring two second half tries. The first came from a nifty inside pass from the first five-eighth, Ihaia West, and the second came 10 minutes after. Bateman showed his pure ability on the latter, shredding the Eagle’s otherwise stout defense. However, Dolan and the boys would not go down without a fight.

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The urgency of the crowd helped propel the Eagles down the field as Dolan pounded through the Maori line for a quick tap. Trailing by just three points against a powerhouse like New Zealand only ramped up the electricity but costly turnovers would lead to the 29-19 final, with Maori coming out on top.

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[Photo credit: Christian Hafer]

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You can view some additional photos in the gallery below (click thumbnails to enlarge):

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USA: Adam Siddal; Luke Hume, Seamus Kelly, Andrew Suniula, Tim Maupin; Toby L’Estrange, Mike Petri; Nick Wallace, Phil Thiel, Shawn Pittman, Graham Harriman, Tai Tuisamoa, Todd Clever (capt), Peter Dahl, Cameron Dolan. Replacements: Zach Fenoglio, Titi Lamositele, Olive Kilifi, John Cullen, Kyle Sumsion, Shaun Davies, Zach Pangelinan, Folau Niua.
Try: Dolan. Conversion: Siddall. Penalties: Siddall 4.
Maori All Blacks: Robbie Robinson; Kurt Baker, Charlie Ngatai, Tim Bateman (capt), Matt Proctor; Ihaia West, Jamison Gibson-Park; Kan Hames, Ash Dixon, Ben Afeaki, Jarrad Hoeata, Joe Wheeler, Shane Christie, Luke Braid, Blade Thomson. Replacements: Joe Royal, Chris Eves, Nick Barrett, Luke Katene, Elliot Dixon, Chris Smylie, Jackson Willison, Zac Guildford.
Tries: Gibson-Park, Bateman 2, Katene. Conversions: Robinson 3.Penalty: Robinson.
Yellow card: Wheeler, 35.
Referee: Chris Asmuss (Canada).

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