The USA Tomahawks have beaten Canada in the first match of the 2011 Colonial Cup, drowning the Wolverines 18-2 in inclement conditions in Philadelphia. With Hurricane Irene looming only hours away, the stage was set between a saturated field and teeming skies and as the players took the field, it was obvious ball handling was to be the name of the game.
The first half was wet and wild warfare; both sides dropped the ball regularly but made up for it with brutal defense. As points were so hard to come by in the awful conditions, both teams were happy to get on the board in any way possible. Test debutant Michael Garvey slotted a penalty goal for the Tomahawks after which Matt Pettie squared the ledger for Canada with a penalty kick of his own.
Halftime score: 2-2.
The weather didn’t improve for the second half; it was to be another 40 minutes of sloppy handling, scrappy tackling and scrums-a-plenty. Canada started to tire and the Tomahawks found some holes in their defensive lines. As the Tomahawks attacked the try line, the slippery ballplayer and Connecticut Wildcat Charlie Rizzo, playing in his first international, put back-rower Salesi Tongamoa through a hole and he crashed over to reinstate a US lead. Next was Sean Taylor, fresh from AMNRL Grand Final celebrations with his New York Knights teammates the previous week, he showed his trademark elusive and powerful running style and dived over to extend the margin. Rizzo was in thick of the action again and he put the game beyond all doubt as he served Fitz-James Adams (New York Knights) a long ball and Adams, who also made his test debut, finished off in the corner.
Final score: 18-2 USA.
The Tomahawks best performers were the tireless Sean Taylor, Captain Apple Pope, and debutant from Hawaii Joshua Rice. Tomahawks assistant coach, Marcus Vassilakopoulos, also mentioned some standout players of the day to be; Ian Elliot (New York Knights), Justin Ripley (New York Knights), Lesili Alovili (Northern Raiders) and Salesi Tongamoa (Connecticut Wildcats). “It was really physical. It was a sloppy game due to the weather but the boys put together a good game,” he said. The teams may have been lucky to have a game at all, as Hurricane Irene edged closer to the coast; many of the grounds in the region were closed. “We have to thank the groundskeeper for letting us play because everything else on the eastern seaboard was pretty much closed down as far as games go, so we we’re happy that we got the game in,” Vassilakopoulos added.
The win extended the USA's all-time run against Canada to 11-0. Game two of the Colonial Cup will be held in Toronto in three weeks’ time on September 17.
USA Tomahawks 18 d. Canadian Wolverines 2
Tries - Salesi Tongama, Sean Taylor, Fitz James Adams
Goals - Mike Garvey 2 Conversions, 1 Penalty Goal
Goals - Mike Pettie 1 Penalty Goal