The USA Rugby Junior All-Americans took out Tonga to the surprise of many in the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy opener taking out Tonga 22-11 in front of a packed house at Murray Rugby Park.
Madison Hughes tallied four penalties and a try to help the Americans’ cause. A final try in the second half by big Louisiana State front rower Cameron Falcon sealed the deal for the USA.
A physical encounter for the full match, the physicality came to a head in the 62nd minute when two Tonga players lost their composure and were carded for taking a few swings at the USA players. The result was a yellow and a red card for Tonga.
The USA’s first try of the game came just a minute after the two Tongan players were sent off. Excellent ball movement caught Tonga out wide and Hughes had the pace to finish.
Ten minutes later, Falcon barreled over after the JAAs built up momentum and patiently waited for a gap in the Tongan defense.
The difference for the USA according to Hughes? Team unity and a commitment to one another.
“We’ve spent a lot of time together than we have in the pass, and we’re a really tight knit squad. The work off the field has really helped on the field,” Hughes said after the match.
His captain, Will Magie, ignited a potent American back line thanks to the help of the big forwards but also his punchy scrumhalf, Alex Taefu. But the captain summed up his team’s effort with three words: attitude, hustle, and aggression.
“We worked and worked and worked and never took our foot off the gas. We overpowered them in the end,” said Magie.
USA Junior All-Americans/USA U20s - 22
Tries: Hughes, Falcon1
Penalties: Hughes (4)
Tonga - 11
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