The final scoreline read 49-36 in favor of the USA Select XV but their second round Americas Pacific Challenge victory over Uruguay ‘A’ was a one-score game until the final play. A last-second try to Zach Pangelinan sealed an absorbing contest that left spectators gasping for air between the ups and downs of 12 tries over 80 minutes.
First points went to the USA with a JP Eloff penalty just a few minutes in, and the first try would be theirs as well. An aggressive Uruguay defense was caught shorthanded out wide and Mike McCarthy picked out an unmarked Psalm Wooching with a kick-pass to give the Hawaiian his first international try.
Despite being under pressure at the scrum the USA was able to win their own ball and Josh Whippy ripped clean through the line, nabbed just short by the cover defense. A quick recycle found Tim Maupin free and into the right corner. A third try came when Aladdin Schirmer appeared out of traffic like a genie and sold a magical dummy to race in for a superb individual effort.
At 20 points up things were not going well for the home team but they were far from giving up. Guillermo Lijtenstein took a quick tap from a penalty and connected with Joaquín Prada who offloaded from the deck to Diego Magno for a try. Soon after it was Gastón Mieres diving over after a risky passing exchange. The score would read USA 20, Uruguay 12 at halftime.
Uruguay needed a quick score to close the gap and they got it. Prada broke the line and popped the ball to Nicolás Freitas on an inside line, the winger spinning through one tackle and speeding in under the posts. Immediately from the restart Whippy was in on it again, this time crashing over from close range. Next it was Uruguay who scored, a penalty goal from Prada as the teams went blow for blow.
Two seemingly decisive scores came just around the hour mark for the USA. Schirmer grabbed a second as he stepped inside the fringe defense to grab his second and not to be outdone Maupin followed up moments later. Hanco Germishuys started the move with a terrific offload from Bryce Campbell sending Maupin in for his double.
Again Uruguay fired back. A huge scrum drive opened a lane for Juan Diego Ormaechea and the No 8 nearly made it all the way himself. Rodrigo Bocking came even closer and then Federico Favaro finally made it. Ben Cima responded with a penalty but Freitas was on hand to gather a cheeky ball over the top to make the gap just six points with two minutes to play. It was the USA who secured the restart, however, and after a few attempts at the line Pangelinan reached over for the coup de grace.
The two sides are now equal on six competition points apiece, four behind leaders Argentina. If the USA can secure a bonus point win over Canada ‘A’ on Sunday they still have a shot at the title but will need Uruguay to defeat the Argentina XV and hold them from a bonus point in the process.
Tries – P. Wooching (14’), T. Maupin 2 (20’, 60’), A. Schirmer 2 (24’, 58’), J. Whippy (48’), Z. Pangelinan (80’)
Cons – J. Eloff 3/6 (25’, 49’, 59’), B. Cima 1/1 (80’)
Pens – J. Eloff 1/1 (4’), B. Cima 1/1 (74’)
Tries – D. Magno (29’), G. Mieres (36’), N. Freitas 2 (46’, 77’), F. Favaro (68’)
Cons – J. Prada 2/3 (30’, 47’), F. Favaro 2/2 (69’, 78’)
Pens – J. Prada 1/1 (51’)
USA SELECT XV
1 Chance Wenglewski, 2 Peter Malcolm (capt.), 3 Angus MacLellan, 4 Brendan Daly, 5 Brendan Hardiman, 6 Ben Landry, 7 Psalm Wooching, 8 Aladdin Schirmer, 9 Holden Yungert, 10 Mike McCarthy, 11 Josh Whippy, 12 JP Eloff, 13 Bryce Campbell, 14 Tim Maupin, 15 Mitch Wilson
Replacements: 16 Alex Vorster, 17 Huluholo Mo’ungaloa, 18 Kelepi Fifita, 19 Matt Jensen, 20 Hanco Germishuys, 21 Ruben de Haas, 22 Ben Cima, 23 Zach Pangelinan
1 Facundo Gattas, 2 Carlos Pombo, 3 Carlos Arboleya, 4 Diego Magno, 5 Mathias Palomeque, 6 Marcos Chamyan, 7 Leandro Segredo, 8 Juan Diego Ormaechea, 9 Guillermo Lijtenstein (capt.), 10 Lucas Durán, 11 Nicolás Freitas, 12 Rodrigo Bocking, 13 Joaquín Prada, 14 Gastón Mieres, 15 Francisco López
Replacements: 16 Germán Kessler, 17 Matías Benítez, 18 Felipe Inciarte, 19 Diego Ayala, 20 Gonzalo Soto, 21 Baltasar Brum, 22 Federico Favaro, 23 Gastón Gibernau
Referee: Federico Anselmi (UAR)