Canada Wolverines 24 – 28 USA Tomahawks
The opening game of the 2012 Colonial Cup was an absolute thriller. Rain all day had threatened to make the game messy. The rain cleared up but the ground was wet and the ball was slippery. It showed in the opening half of the game.
Now I have seen a few games in my time, in many countries and at many levels, this one was right up there as one of the best and most intense I have come across. A large crowd 4675 had turned out to scream their local boys to victory. The beer garden was over flowing and in great North American style people were getting dressed up and jazzed up for the occasion. I even saw a whole bunch of people turn up in a stretched limousine and there was someone there with a Lamborghini!
Pre game as the teams were warming up, you could feel the tension. Even when they came out for the National Anthems, you knew that it was going to be something special. The game had five clear sections to it where each team had periods of domination. In the end it was defence, the team that could hold out the other better would come out on top.
The opening 15 minutes saw the Canadians dominate. Even though the first few sets went to the USA, it was the Canadians who pushed the hardest to the USA line. Despite this an attempted penalty goal to the USA at the 12 minute mark missed its target, which seemed to lift the Wolverines a bit. A few minutes later the Canadians through a great cut out play wide to right field saw them go in the corner. However some controversy as the try was disallowed with the Canadian winger deemed to hit the flag and be out. This seemed to really shift the momentum to the USA however.
The USA a couple minutes later drew the first blood of the game. A tough run up through the defence and a kick on the 5th tackle saw Sean Taylor re-gather and break through and go over the line, the conversion from Todd Fisher saw them take a 6-0 lead. It was a gritty battle from there and another penalty saw the USA go for goal once more and take the lead to 8-0. With 8 minutes to go till half time Dusten Umeda went over for the first of his two tries through a wonderful move. Momentum was all with the USA and just before half time a 40-20 kick set up the play for Matt Walsh to go over. It was a bit touch and go, the Canadians claiming he was short, but even as my photos show the line was on the line and that is a try! At the break the USA lead 16-0 over the Wolverines.
The second half was completely different. The USA came out very, very flat. It was as if the Rugby League Gods decided that they would flip the dice. Everything the USA did went bad and the Canadians did no wrong. The next 15 minutes saw the Wolverines put on three tries of their own. Felix Chalmers was the first to go over 2 minutes after the break. Soon after Chris Chalmers went over as well and the Louis Robinson conversion took it to 10-16. Geoff Bylund then got the first of his hat-trick tries. The pressure was on Louis to get the conversion, but the miss meant that Canada trailed by two. The game was in the balance and a mistake mid-field by the Canadians saw Dusten Umeda scoop up the ball and sprint for the line.
Umeda showed unbelievable speed to basically out sprint everyone and go two-thirds of the field to score under the posts. This once again shifted the momentum back in the Tomahawks way. The Fourth switch had happened. The Fisher conversion saw the score out to 22-14. Five minutes later Fisher was over himself and with his own conversion it seemed at 28-14, like the game had slipped out of the Wolverines hands. However we were in for a last switch of momentum.
The Canadians started to get the upper hand in the arm wrestle but the USA defence seemed to hold. But a brilliant bomb by Jamie Lester and a bat-back saw Bylund scoop the ball up and go over in the corner. Robinsons conversion saw the score go to 28-20 to the Tomahawks. Was there enough in the tank for the Wolverines to get back? Seemed like the answer was yes. Two minutes later, that is the 77th minute, Lester put in another kick into the right wing and Bylund was over once more. However the Robinson conversion missed and two minutes were left for the win.
The kick off went out on the full, the Canadians has the ascendency, but a drop ball saw the USA get the ball. All they had to do was hold the ball, but guess what a knock on and the Canadians had the feed in the scrum. From the scrum Lester got the ball, it was the last play. A chip kick down the wing for Bylund once again didn’t;t get it mark. The ball being regathered by the US and a tackle, the game was over. The USA won the opener.
Despite that crowd was still going wild. Both the USA and the Canadians did laps around the ground and the Canadians spent time meeting the fans after the game.
Tries: T. Felix, Chalmers, Bylund (3)
Conversion: Robinson (2/5)
Tries: Taylor, Umeda (2), Walsh, Fisher
Conversion: Fisher (3/5)
Goals: Fisher (1/2)
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