AIG MJAAs to play for third at IRB JWRT

AIG MJAAs to play for third at IRB JWRT

HONG KONG, China – The USA Rugby AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans’ unbeaten run at the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy came to an end Tuesday as Tonga snatched a 28-22 victory and a place in the Final at Hong Kong Football Club Ground.

Ben Cima, starting his third match of the tournament, put the MJAAs ahead in the second minute with a penalty, a good response to Tonga’s cultural challenge prior to kickoff.

Tonga’s Siaosi Tonga snuck around a ruck in the 17th minute to score the match’s first try, though it went unconverted. Jarom Halo extended Tonga’s lead to 8-3 in the 21st minute with a penalty.

Tonga kept the MJAAs from good scoring positions throughout much of the first half and kept adding points to pull away from Billy Millard’s team. Patelesio Oneone, making up for his missed conversion after Tonga’s try, scored one of his own in the 27th minute for a 13-3 lead. Mosese Latu missed the conversion.

Though Latu missed the opportunity to add two points to Tonga’s side of the scoreboard, he successfully made the tournament’s first drop goal in the 31st minute for a 16-3 lead. Cima responded two minutes later with a penalty kick to send the teams into the locker rooms at the half with the MJAAs down, 16-6.

Tonga made three substitutions at the break but again gave up a penalty just minutes after the kickoff. Cima put his third kick through the uprights in the 43rd minute to draw the MJAAs within a converted try at 16-9. The scoreline did not last long, however, as Halo scored a try, converted by Latu, in the 49th minute.

Cima kicked his fourth penalty in the 54th minute to bring the score to 23-12 before Haini Moala added Tonga’s fourth try in the 66th minute. Not only did the try give Tonga a 28-12 lead, but it also meant a bonus point for Tonga in the standings. The MJAAs had been atop Pool A throughout the tournament, while Tonga lost its first match to Georgia and had to play catch-up and hope for losses at the top of the table.

Titi Lamositele scored the MJAAs’ only try of the match in the 70th minute with a successful conversion from Cima, who kicked his fifth penalty a few minutes later to bring the score to 28-22.

With five minutes remaining and Tonga having secured a bonus point, the MJAAs needed a win or draw in order to reach the Final. Time ran out before they could add to the scoreboard, however, and Tonga advanced to the Final due to the head-to-head win, though both teams tied with 10 points in the pool.

“It is very disappointing to go out in this fashion but we couldn’t get an early rhythm into our game and we failed to control and protect that grey area – between the halfway and our 22,” Millard told IRB.com. “That cost us.”

The MJAAs will face Uruugay in the Third-Place Match Saturday, April 19. Uruguay defeated both Japan and Namibia and drew with Canada to finish second in Pool B with 10 points. The MJAAs, who were relegated to the JWRT last year after finishing in last place at the IRB Junior World Championship, will contest the JWRT again next year.

“To be within touching distance and not go through to the Final on Saturday is a huge disappointment,” Millard told IRB.com.

The IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2014 Third-Place Match will kick off Saturday, April 19, at 5:00 A.M. ET.

USA Rugby AIG Men's Junior All-Americans | v Tonga
1. Titi Lamositele
2. Codi Jones
3. Benjamin Tarr
4. Tyler Enfield
5. Oliver Drew (C)
6. Christian Weissing
7. Ben Pinkelman
8. Hanco Germishuys
9. Erik Thompson
10. Ben Cima
11. James Vaifale
12. Gabe Farley
13. Nemia Qoro
14. Scott Dean
15. Niall Barry

USA Rugby AIG Men's Junior All-Americans | Reserves
16. Peter Malcolm (@ 49')
17. Val Lee-Lo
18. Max Robertson (@ 68')
19. Zach Bonte (@ 35')
20. Mike Reid (@ 59')
21. Joe Kelly
22. Connor Wallace-Sims (@ 59')

USA Rugby AIG Men's Junior All-Americans | 22
Tries: Lamositele
Conversions: Cima
Penalties: Cima (5)

Tonga | Roster
1. Viliami Lefai
2. Feiloakitohi Tupoumalohi
3. Misinale Taukolo
4. Albert Mataele
5. Shannon Frizzell
6. Jonathan Akauola
7. Api Funaki (C)
8. Sione Hifo
9. Siaosi Tonga
10. Patelesio Oneone
11. Kimami Moala
12. Samiuela Tupou
13. Sunita Fihaki
14. George Stewart
15. Jarom Halo

Tonga | Reserves
16. Taimikovi Fangatua
17. Haini Moala (@ 40')
18. Tomakino Taufa (@ 40')
19. Kisina Neiufi (@ 40')
20. Tuihakavalu Ika
21. Semisi Tei (@ 73')
22. Mosese Latu (@ 22')

Tonga | 28
Tries: Tonga, Oneone, Halo, Moala
Conversions: Latu
Penalties: Halo
Drop Goals: Latu

USA Rugby AIG Men's Junior All-Americans | IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2014
v Uruguay - Saturday, April 19 - 5:00 A.M. ET

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