The USA Rugby High School All-Americans (HSAAs) kicked off their five-game South American tour with a win over the Chile U19 team in Vina del Mar, Chile, on Sunday, July 15. The U.S. team won 24-17 in the first of a two game series.
The 32-man HSAA squad arrived in Chile on July 11 and completed six training sessions prior to their matchup with Chile. Starting for the HSAAs were seven seniors, five juniors and three sophomores. The team was led by Andy Sandoval, the junior hooker out of San Pedro, Calif., who was chosen to captain the first game of the tour.
Chile started strong, forcing the U.S. team on the back foot with a try by their lock Mario Mayol at the eight minute mark. Two minutes later, Titi Lamositele, the dominating HSAA loosehead prop, from Chuckanut, Wash., powered over the line from ten meters out. Flyhalf Calvin Whiting of United Rugby (Utah) added the two point conversion. That gave the U.S. a 7-5 lead at halftime despite Chile’s control of the time of possession.
Chile started the second half in similar style. Pressuring the U.S. defense with possession, continuity and support, they were rewarded with a penalty from flyhalf Francisco Urroz, who recently played with Chile’s U20s at the Junior World Trophy in Salt Lake City. Urroz produced all of Chile’s second half points with three more penalties.
Nuu Aaiva (Keaika’a Sharks, Hawaii) sparked the U.S. offense with two second half tries. One came off a fantastic midfield break by Lamositele and the other from a counter-attack by fullback Anthony Salabel (Dixon, Calif.), bringing the score to 21-14 after conversions by Whiting.
Substitute flyhalf Ben Cima, (Gonzaga College H.S.) slotted a penalty at the nineteen minute mark to open up a ten-point lead, 24-14. Chile responded with a penalty in the twenty-sixth minute and continued to test the U.S. defense until Fitou Fisiiahi earned a penalty and Ben Cima cleared to close out the game.
“This game could have gone either way,” said Salty Thompson, the HSAA Head Coach. “Chile played better rugby for significant portions of the game, but our players responded with a commitment to defense. Jason Payne (HSAA defense coach) has made significant progress with our boys in four days and it’s making a difference.”
The teams face each other again on Wednesday in Santiago. “With a 32-man roster and a focus on player development we will make significant changes to the starting lineup and reserves,” said Thompson. “I’m happy with the depth and commitment from the entire squad. Wednesday is a new opportunity to challenge and improve.”
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