The New Zealand Maori All Blacks held off an impressive United States Eagles side on a brilliant occasion for USA rugby in Philadelphia at the weekend. The Maori All Blacks made it two from two on their North American tour, winning this one 29-19.
The visitors started well as Jamison Gibson-Park scored within a few minutes and gave the impression that it would be a bit of a rout, but the USA side hung in there and mixed it up physically, and actually led 9-7 at halftime due to three penalties from the boot.
Captain Tim Bateman scored early in the second before the USA again clawed their way back and were within seven points with minutes remaining, before Bateman scored again and a late Luke Katene try sealed the win for the touring Maoris.
USA Number Eight Cam Dolan was a star for the homeside, scoring a try and coming close on another occasion, but the experience and guile of the visitors told.
“We started slowly, but we came together and we did what we’d talked about all week,” Life University’s Dolan said. “All week we’d been saying we’d come out here and hit them. Everyone says Americans are big hitters, with football and all, and I think we proved that. We kept the possession and played a great game.”
Maori All Blacks coach Colin Cooper said the win honoured the proud legacy of past teams.
“They were very physical, very committed and we nearly let them in at the end, but the boys showed plenty of determination to nail the win, so I am really pleased with the overall performance.
“When a group of men unite like that in front of what was an electric crowd, it was really special and a huge highlight for me personally,” he added.
The USA now head across eastern europe to take on Georgia, followed by Russia a week later.