The USA Tomahawks will take harsh lessons learned from their shock loss to Canada into the important Rugby League World Cup Qualifying series later this month in Philadelphia. Although the Americans retained the Colonial Cup on overall aggregate points, their first ever defeat by Canada last month has left them with a bitter aftertaste, something they are determined to erase when they compete in the Atlantic Zone qualifiers against South Africa and Jamaica.
Tomahawks captain Apple Pope says he and his teammates are still upset about the Canadian result and blame themselves for not being on top of their game. “The loss in Toronto was pretty shocking for us Brian,” Pope says. “It was a result we weren't anticipating and it definitely left us a bit disappointed, mainly with our lack of effort and discipline on the day. Yeah, retaining the Cup is great, but taking the series on two wins was always the goal. “As far as I'm concerned this game is already behind us. We got beat, we learned some things and now it's time to focus on improvement before the next test.”
With the Colonial Cup in the rear-view mirror, the Americans are now looking ahead and are keenly focused on the tough job of clinching the Atlantic Zone seed for Pool D in 2013. Their first hurdle will be South Africa and the USA will be aiming for a morale boosting win against the Rhinos to get themselves in a winning frame of mind for what could be the series decider against Jamaica.
Among the aspects of the Tomahawks’ play that let them down against the Wolverines was a failure to stick to the fundamentals and according to the skipper, that’s something they are working on with a passion. “The main thing learned I think was the importance of execution and discipline,” continues Pope. “We struggled to execute our game plan and we lost the penalty margin 16-5.”
Time is rapidly ticking away for all three countries to get things right in readiness for the RLWCQ and while all three squads are under pressure to perform, the Tomahawks in particular are starting to feel the heat as they’ll have the added weight of playing in front of the home crowd in the city of brotherly love. Pope suggests there are several things the players and coaching staff need to do in order to give the home team the best possible chance of advancing to the Rugby League World Cup for the very first time. “Securing the Atlantic Zone seed isn't going to be easy. We will need to focus on total team effort and execution,” he adds. “The skill, knowledge and preparation are there, we just have to stay disciplined and execute.”
RLWCQ Schedule - Philadelphia:
GAME 1 - USA v South Africa (October 15, 2011)
GAME 2 - South Africa v Jamaica (October 19, 2011)
GAME 3 - USA v Jamaica (October 23, 2011)