BLAINE, Minn. – The USA Rugby AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans could not hold onto an early second-half lead Wednesday, May 8, and ultimately fell to Canada’s U20s 26-16 at the National Sports Center. Head Coach Jason Kelly’s MJAAs will get a chance at revenge Saturday, May 11, in Blaine.
The reigning Junior World Rugby Trophy winners gave up three early penalties, which were converted by Canada’s Shane O’Leary, for a 9-0 deficit. The University of California-Davis’ Liam Bourke added two penalty kicks of his own to keep the MJAAs in the match, and the score held at 9-6 at the half.
Bourke matched O’Leary with his third penalty to start the second half and tie the game at 9-9. Belmont Shore’s Mike Teo gave the MJAAs their first lead of the match with a try resulting from a penalty. Bourke added the conversion to make it 16-9. The lead did not last long, however, and Canada kept the MJAAs from scoring again.
Four minutes later, Canada replied through Justin Douglas and an O’Leary conversion to even the score before another O’Leary penalty gave Canada a 19-16 lead with three minutes remaining. James Pitbaldo scored the insurance try at the end of the match – with yet another successful O’Leary kick – to bring the final score to 26-16.
“We played well in the first half, but just didn’t convert anything,” Kelly said. “After four or five phases, we’d lose patience and turn the ball over.”
The MJAAs will host Canada again on Saturday at the National Sports Center in conjunction with Minnesota Youth Rugby. The MJAAs will prepare for the match with film sessions and light training Thursday and Friday.
“We will need more intensity in the second match and to keep up the pace of play,” Kelly said. “We need to keep our hands on the ball.”
A full day of rugby Saturday will include a Middle School Showcase Match and Boys High School Showcase Match to start off the day, with a Rookie Rugby Jamboree also scheduled.
The other events on Saturday are free for spectators, while a Ruck/Continuity and Lineout Coaching Clinic, hosted by USA Rugby High Performance Player Development Manager Luke Gross, is $20. The fee also includes a ticket to the second MJAAs match against Canada.
To purchase tickets for the second match, please click here >>
AIG Men's Junior All-Americans | vs. Canada U20s
AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans | vs. Canada U20s
Penalties: Bourke (3)