The Collegiate All Americans lost 17-10 to a New Zealand Universities XV Sunday in the first game of the US team’s three-match tour.
The game was played in typically rainy and windy conditions in Palmerston North, and while the tourists showed well, they also gave up two soft tries that cost them dearly.
The All Americans took an early lead through a penalty goal from Joe Cowley, but received a blow three minutes later when highly-regarded openside flanker Alec Gletzer had to leave the game.
Still the All Americans pressured and things looked promising, but an interception turned that all around and suddenly the tourists were down 7-3.
Five minutes before halftime the New Zealanders extended their lead with a penalty goal from 45 meters out, that glanced off the upright and through.
It was a frustrating end to the first half for the All Americans, as they were in the New Zealand 22 several times, and ended the first 40 being held up in-goal.
The second half was a tight affair as both defenses held . It wasn’t until the 70th minute that the New Zealanders broke through, and they needed a little luck to do it. A wayward pass went over flyhalf Pat Sullivan’s head, and a NZ Universities player toed it ahead into in-goal. The All American cover defense was there first, but couldn’t control the bouncing ball, and a New Zealand Universities player touched it down. 17-3.
With four minutes to go, Sullivan finally got over for a try for the All Americans, running a smart line and splitting the defenders from eight meters out. Cowley’s kick made it 17-10, and that’s how it ended.
“We failed to capitalize on most of our opportunities, giving up three penalties in their 22 in the first half, and getting held up in-goal to end the half,” said All American Head Coach Matt Sherman. “I thought our best areas were physicality and organization in defense, and we played field position pretty well.”
The All Americans struggled with their lineout, however, and their ball-handling. Their backs were a little too eager, and therefore lined up too flat, giving them less time to make decisions, and leasing to some poor choices on offense.
“Overall I’d say we were taught a lesson in how to play in wet conditions and the team is looking forward to another crack at them and applying the lessons learned,” said Sherman.
All Americans lineup
1. Mike Shepherd
2. Glen Maricelli
3. Clint Lemkus
4. Michael Lawrenson
5. John Cullen
6. Danny Barrett
7. Alex Gletzer
8. Ryan Roundy (C)
9. Jacob McFadden
10. Pat Sullivan
11. Madison Hughes
12. JP Eloff
13. Zach Mizell
14. Tim Maupin
15. Joe Cowley
16. Paris Hollis (on for Shepherd at 70)
17. Eric Parsons (on for Lemkus at 67)
18. Ben Landry
19. Jordan Badia-Bellinger (on for Gletzer at 12)
20. Don Pati (on for McFadden at 60)
21. Mike Haley
22. Josh Tucker (on for Maupin at 67)