The Men's U20 Junior All-American team will face Zimbabwe in the seventh place game of the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy on Sunday in Tbilisi, Georgia.
THe U.S. finds themselves in the seventh place game after three frustrating losses in pool play to Samoa, Russia, and Uruguay. Their opponent has faired similarly in pool play; the U20's from Zimbabwe have suffered losses to Japan, Georgia, and Canada.
The two teams have both struggled on defense. Through three matches the U.S. has scored 52 points and given up 123 points, while the Zimbabwean team has scored 66 points and given up 136 points. The U.S. did score 36 points in their match against Russia, but only scored 11 and 5 points against Samoa and Uruguay respectively. Compare those numbers to those of the U20's from Zimbabwe who have been somewhat more consistent on offense with point totals of 24, 19, and 23.
If the U.S. team is going to earn their first victory of the tournament they must see great play from their current offensive leaders Will Magie, Joe Cowley, and Madison Hughes. Joe Cowley has been solid with the boot throughout the tournament and has also scored a try. Flyhalf Will Magie and Madison Hughes have worked beautifully in support of each other in the three matches; most notably in the first match against Samoa when Magie majestically placed a grubber in the back left corner of the try zone.
Zimbabwe has kicked well in their three matches. They are led by their flyhalf, Tommy Nelson, who has kicked through 20 points in the JWRT and have also earned 9 points off the boot of Sean Linfield.
Although neither team has won a game in the JWRT, the match on Sunday is shaping up to be a heck of a ball game. Both of these teams would rather not go home without a win, and if the U.S. is going to earn a victory they must play with increased focus and intensity.
The match will be played early Sunday morning and can be viewed at http://www.irb.com/jwrt/video/index.html.