The Men's U20 Junior All-America team faced Uruguay in their last match of pool play in the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy. The American team suffered a 33-5 defeat and will now face Zimbabwe in the 7th/8th place match on June 5.
The U.S. team came into the match 0-2 in pool play and were desperately looking for a strong showing against Uruguay; which in the first two minutes looked promising. It was not until an early knock-on led to a Uruguay scrum and kick away deep in their own territory. The U.S. was unable to maintain possession of the ball after the kick and were quickly put back on the defensive.
The Uruguay squad used strong forward pick-and-go's to wear down the U.S. defense and allow them to swing the ball wide. After a couple quick passes and a nice running line by fullback, Guillermo Del Cerro, the Uruguayan's scored a try in the right corner. The conversion was missed by Felipe Berchesi, and only seven minutes into the game, the score stood at 5-0 in favor of Uruguay.
Despite the fact that Uruguay scored a quick try, the first ten minutes of play were lackluster for both sides. Both the U.S. and Uruguay had a difficult time moving and controlling the ball. This lack of offensive continuity led to a U.S. penalty in their own territory, very close to midfield. Uruguay's Felipe Berchesi blasted the deep penalty kick through the uprights, bringing the score to 8-0 thirteen minutes in.
The game was stopped about a minute later, but this time for a penalty against Uruguay near their own 22. But the American fullback, Joe Cowley, missed the penalty kick opportunity from close to the touch line.
Just six minutes later, Felipe Berchesi made the American's pay for another penalty and brought the score to 11-0 on his second penalty kick of the day. The U.S. team found themselves in a familiar position early on in the match.
It was in the twenty-fifth minute that the U.S. was able to use a powerful counter-ruck to poach the ball from Uruguay's possession and begin an attack the opposing team was unready for. The ball eventually landed in the hands of speedy winger, Madison Hughes, who was able to break the Uruguay line, run for about forty meters, then offload to the supporting flyhalf and captain, Will Magie, who scored the magnificently executed try in the corner. Joe Cowley was unable to convert, so the score stood at 11-5 twenty-six minutes into the match.
Unfortunately, these would be the last points for the young American team.
Given the fact that Uruguay's Felipe Berchesi was able to attempt five penalty kicks (three of which he made), it is safe to say that the American team played an errant match of rugby. This, coupled with low intensity on the defensive end, helped Uruguay take a 19-5 lead at halftime that they were able to heavily build upon.
A large portion of the second half was played in American territory. In the fifty-fifth minute Uruguay was able to record their third try of the match behind devastating forward running and lackluster American tackling. The conversion brought the score to 26-5 with twenty-four minutes to play.
The U.S. was able to threaten the Uruguay team in minute sixty. After a kick deep into Uruguay territory, the American defense was able to drag the Uruguay ball carrier to touch at Uruguay's 5 meter line. The U.S. was unable to maintain ball control through the lineout and Uruguay regained possession.
The final score of the match was recorded in minute seventy when the Uruguayan 8-man, Santino Puppo, was able to break the U.S. defensive line and gain substantial field position; in the breakdown Puppo was able to produce a quick ball that the prop, Francisco Benhayon, was able to scoop up and rumble into the try zone with. The conversion by Felipe Berchesi brought the final score to 33-5.
The American team is now 0-3 in the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy. They look to defeat Zimbabwe for seventh place on June 5. The match can be viewed at http://www.irb.com/jwrt/video/index.html