Marietta, Ga. - Paced by a big-scoring second half the USA Rugby South men's select side defeated Mexico 56-23 Saturday at Life University's rugby facility.
The victory allows the South to advance in the North American Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) 15s championships, where they will play at Jamaica.
Things were a little difficult for the hosts in the first half.
"We were guilty of getting into penalty trouble," said South Coach David Conyers. "We were offside a lot and our tight five just wasn't doing their job. Frankly, we were lucky to be ahead."
The South went into the break up 14-13. Conyers credited much of that slim lead to the play of captain Derek Wolfe, who was a rock in the forwards.
"If Derek hadn't played the way he did in the first half, we wouldn't have been in the lead," said Conyers. "And he put in a full 80 today."
In the second half, the South got back into their pattern and improved their discipline. With the forwards getting their heads around the game, the backs had a chance to shine, which they did, scoring two tries in quick succession in the first few minutes of the second period, and putting the game away quickly.
Leading the way was center and University of North Carolina product Amir Khan.
The South now looks ahead to facing Jamaica after they beat Turks & Cacos 31-13 Saturday.
"It's great to see territorial rugby making a bit of a comeback," said Conyers. "The players want to be involved, and they've committed to it, so we are looking forward to going wherever we need to go for the next game."