March 17th, St. Patricks Day in Chester PA saw the next instalment of the Donnybrook Cup played out between the USA and Ireland. On and unseasonably hot day for march on the east coast, where temperatures got close to 20 degrees a great crowd of over 2000 turned out at Widener Universities Quick Stadium to see a full days play of Rugby League and Union. It was entertainment galore with the Warrior Watch present, Irish dancing and after the game the Blackthorns at the local casino. A hard brutal game ensued which saw both teams have to deal with physicality and heat.
From the kick off it was clear that that the first games for both nations and many of their players we were going to see a game with many mistakes. Ireland received the ball and almost straight away made a mistake by dropping the ball. It was clear that the Human cannon ball, Akarika Dawn, was going to be using his large size and momentum to ram his way through the Irish defence and offence. Some initial big hit-ups and hits from him signalled his intention. However after only 6 minutes the USA suffered a massive blow. Their halfback, Damien O’Malveney, was taken off field with what was initially suspected as a concussion but later found out was a dislocated shoulder and taken to hospital.
The Irish managed to get some great momentum in the first 20 minutes of the match, they pressed the US line and with some smart kicks and inexperience in the USA back line showing were able to get a line drop out. The USA through a smart short kick were able to recover it but soon after dropped the ball. some terrible defence saw the Irish break through and open the scoring in the 13th minute through Sean Carmody to go up 6-0. Soon after it was a reverse of the table as some poor Irish defence saw the USA also break through easily and get their first points through Luke Hume and square it up 6-6.
Luke Hume started to show his class at this point. Any time he got the ball he looked absolutely dangerous and it started to force the Irish to concentrate to contain him. Off-side penalties started to hurt the Irish as they were coming out of the blocks early to try and contain Hume and the backline. Hume’s speed and agility proved too much once again and 32 minutes in he went over again to bag his second try and take the USA to a 12-6 lead after Matt Walsh converted.
Ireland did have a lot of ball possession, actually had most of the field position, in the first half but any time they were within about 10 meters of the try line a mistake would come about, the inexperience of the Irish showing through their lack of patience, pushing the ball too much in that last bit to either knock-on or turn it over. But their persistence payed off in the 37th minute with Adam Hughes going over in the corner. It was a close call as the corner post was taken out but referee Rob Irwin in consultation with his touchline judged gave them the points. A missed conversion and it was looking like a close game going into half time as 12-10. This was not to be the case, as right on the half time hooter Ben Kelly also went over out wide to give the USA a better buffer at half time with the score being 16-10
After the break it seemed that the USA were back to their ways in the first half with dropped balls and it took only 5 minutes for Joe Smith to go over for the Irish and it looked like the Irish may be on the way back, 16-14. This seemed to spur the Tomahawks back into shape and clean up their game up. Luke Hume started to terrorise the Irish line once again and was able to break through the Irish lines to score his hat-trick of tries. With Walsh’s conversion the tomahawks went to a 22-14.
Hume was involved a few minutes later again. He seemed to he a get out of gaol card in many situation. The Irish winger Hughes, from a spilled ball played some other football, soccer in fact, with the ball kicking it up the field. It seemed a sure things, the USA defence was lagging behind, and out of no where the supercharge speed of Hume he came out of nowhere to pass everyone, get the ball and then bring it back 30 meters to diffuse the situation. On the back of the ensuing plays the USA through Walsh were in over again though he was not able to convert his own try, 26-14.
The final 20 minutes saw the USA start to run away with the match. The heat was starting to get to the Irish who probably have not had to deal with this kind of weather in March. Though the Irish scored again on 60 minutes through Andy Brace to get to 20 points the Americans larger front pack started to dominate. Akarika Dawn using his size was able to go over twice in the corner in the space of four minutes. However his first try had some controversy about it as it may have come from an off side play when Sean Taylor got possession, but none of the refs picked it up and it was play on.
Soon after there was some good old biff coming into the game, when on the 75th minute a scuffle ensued from a scrum. Started by the USA’s Kelly McGill, he ended up being sent off for 10 minutes, so the USA were down one man for the remaining 5 minutes. The Irish were pressing hard from the penalty but another costly mistake saw the USA pounce and go full field and have Louis Tulio score on the 78th minute. The conversion sealed it for the Tomahawks at 38-20 and they retain the Donnybrook Cup and take their head-to-head to 5 – 3 in their favour.
Post match the entertainment went to Harrah’s Casino in Chester and seemed that most of the crowd from the game turned up to meet the players and officials of both teams. A fantastic day, with great weather and entertainments and Rugby League over all.
Man of the Match: USA Luke Hume Ireland Tom Rataihi
Two warm up games were played before the donnybrook Cup. Both were Rugby Union and showed off local Union clubs and high schools. In the first match Hibernians RUFC defeated Nth East Irish RUFC 35-5 while in the second game two high schools played with Monsignor Bonner High School defeating St. Augustine Prep High School 27-20. When I asked AMNRL CEO David Niu the reasons for having the Union games he said that the idea is to expose as many people to Rugby League. The friends and family of these teams will see what Rugby League is all about and the teams on display today have expressed an interest in switching to league.
It could be a win for all.
United States Tomahawks: 1. Kenny Britt 2. Louis Tulio 3. Keiki Misipeka 4. Akarika Dawn 5. Ian Elliott 6. Luke Hume 7. Damien O’Malveney 8. Justin Ripley 9. Apple Pope (Capt) 10. Andrew Kniesly 11. Salesia Tongamoa 12. Ben Kelly 13. Matt Walsh Interchange: 14. Sean Taylor 15. Vai Notoa 16. Kelly McGill 17. John Dykeman
Tries: Hume (3), Dawn (2), Kelly (1), Walsh (1), Tulio (1) Conversions: Walsh (3)
Ireland Wolfhounds: 1. Ashley Huck 2. Adam Hughes 3. Andy Mc’Grory 4. Joe Muchern 5. Paddy James 6. Sean Carmody 7. Paddy Barcoe 8. Benny Guilfoyle 9. Joe Smith 10. Mark O’Neill 11. Alan Trenier 12. Graham Taylor 13. Tommy Ratahi Interchange: 14. Paddy Boyle 15. Matty Haddon 16. Andy Brace 17. Larry Pontyn 18. Cathal O’Reilly
Tries: Hughes (1), Brace (1), Smith (1), Carmody (1) Conversions: James (2)
Officials: Rob Irwin (R) Chris Doyle (T) John Blithe (T) Graham Desmond (O)
Crowd: Over 2000
13 min: 00 – 04 Ireland Try – Sean Carmody
15 min: 00 – 06 Ireland Conversion – Paddy James
21 min: 04 – 06 USA Try – Luke Hume
22 min: 06 – 06 USA Conversion – Matt Walsh
32 min: 10 – 06 USA Try – Luke Hume
33 min: 12 – 06 USA Conversion – Matt Walsh
37 min: 12 – 10 Ireland Try – Adam Hughes
40 min: 16 – 10 USA Try – Ben Kelly
45 min: 16 – 14 Ireland Try Joe Smith
49 min: 20 – 14 USA Try – Luke Hume
50 min: 22 – 14 USA Conversion – Matt Walsh
54 min: 26 – 14 USA Try – Matt Walsh
60 min: 26 – 18 Ireland Try – Andy Brace
61 min: 26 – 20 Ireland Conversion Paddy James
67 min: 30 – 20 USA Try Akarika Dawn
71 min: 34 – 20 USA Try Akarika Dawn
78 min: 38 – 20 Louis Tulio
Penalties: USA 06 – 04 Ireland
Scrums Won: USA 11 – 14 Ireland
Errors: USA 6 – 10 Ireland
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