GLENDALE, CO.- In a curtain-raiser for the senior Men’s National Team XVs test match against rival-Canada, the Men’s Collegiate All-Americans XVs squeaked out a win in the final seconds against the All-Canadian University XVs, 23-22, at Infinity Park.
24 of the 26 rostered athletes competed in D1A this past season.
“I was really impressed with the guys to be able to come away with the victory there,” Mitch Wilson said. “I think Canada did a great job pressuring us on the set piece. They really pressured us to the end and we were able to fight through and play to the final whistle. We were lucky enough to come away with the win.”
The Men’s Collegiate All-Americans got on the board early with a penalty kick by Duncan Van Shalkwyk, 3-0. The two-teams went back and forth, with the American defense looking strong, but the Canadians were able to break the standstill and take the lead, 5-3.
Huge runs by Troy Lockyear and Wesley White advanced the Americans up the field. Right out of a scrum, the squad was able to capitalize on great field possession and a huge run by Tavite Lopeti into the tryzone put the Americans up 8-5.
The All-Americans battled hard for the last bit of the first half, down a man with Conner Mooneyham in the sin bin. Another huge run downfield by Troy Lockyear set them up near the tryline and Ronan Murphy pushed even further toward the tryline in the final play of the first half. Sean Yacoubian drove forward, pulling a couple of Canadians with him into the try zone to put the Americans up 13-5 to end the first half on a strong note.
The Americans looked to continue that momentum to start the second half. The goal line defense looked good, but the Canadiens were able to grab a try and conversion, to cut the American lead to 13-12. Up a player following a Canadian yellow card, the Americans were then able to further their lead to 18-12 on the back of a Payton Telea-ilalio try.
The Canadians responded with points of their own, breaking through stout American defense to put them back on top, 19-18 with a little over five minutes left. A penalty kick pushed the Canadian lead to 22-18 late.
Immediately off of a penalty, the All-Americans were able to push down the field with 2 minutes to go. A lineout at the 22 proved to be a deciding factor for the game. The All-Americans regained possession from the lineout and then drove towards the try zone. In the final minutes, the All-Americans were able to push over the line – scoring a try in the 81st minute to steal the victory from the Canadian squad. Ronan Murphy bullied his way over the line, with some help from teammates, to help the All-Americans walk off with the 23-22 win.
The lineout was a strength for the U.S. squad, winning all but a few lineouts to own the battle of possession. Work at the set piece was also a bright spot for the Americans as they scored tries both at full strength and when and down a man.
Following the victory this evening, First, Second and Third Team All-American honors will be announced.
Tavite Lopeti (27)
Sean Yacoubian (42)
Payton Telea-ilalio (53)
Ronan Murphy (81)