Maori All Blacks turn it on in Chicago

Mitch Karpik 1566170472

From the outset the renewed Maori provided the Eagles with a demonstration of forward craft, especially at the breakdown and in lineout driving continuity. Locks Pari Pari Parkinson and Isaia Walker-Leaware, both on debut, were outstanding throughout.

While the home team proved more competitive during the second half, the earlier pressure told on the home team. Although they enjoyed the greater possession and territory throughout the game, the Eagles lacked the finishing quality and accuracy and were down 8-26 at halftime.

Distribution was also an issue as the home team looked to lift their effort only to have passes go directly to touch while another pass allowed centre Rob Thompson to pick off an easy second half intercept.

No.8 Akira Ioane, another who was a constant menace for the Eagles, broke through the midfield early and while a knock-on was played to advantage, the USA failed to find touch with a clearance and wing Regan Ware carried the ball back upfield.

The Maori worked the ball around and when moving to the left centre Rob Thompson cut infield and found halfback Brad Weber and running blind he slipped the ball to Ware who had an easy run-in to score in the corner three minutes into the game.

No sooner had USA scored their first points through a penalty goal in the 14th minute to first five-eighths Will Hooley than the Maori responded with Thompson giving flanker Mitch Karpik a long pass on the flank to score.

It was the Maori power on the lineout drive in the 20th minute that saw skipper and hooker Ash Dixon awarded the try but in the 24th minute it was prop Ben May who was on the end of a line after a long pass from first five-eighths Otere Black to Dixon who fed May in.

Dixon found himself in the sin-bin after an American maul was pulled down, albeit the result of mistaken identity, with 10 minutes of the half remaining.

Joining him in the 36th minutes was Parkinson, who was deemed guilty of a dangerous tackle on Eagles halfback Shaun Davies. From the resulting scrum, the Eagles worked the ball to the blindside for wing Ryan Matyas, who had always looked one of the more dangerous runners, to score.

Reduced numbers didn't matter at the start of the second half as 18 seconds after the Eagles resumed, Weber passed to wing Jonah Lowe who sped downfield, angling slightly in before passing out to Walker-Leawere who raced 60m to outpace the cover defence to score.

Five minutes later he was in again, in more orthodox fashion from driving forward play which saw May and Ioane carry the ball into the goalmouth before Walker-Leawere picked the ball from the back of the ruck and stretched out to score.

The Eagles started to find continuity in the middle stages of the half building phase play with effect and when hooker Dylan Fawsitt sped into a gap have gave fullback Will Magie the chance to put Tim Maupin in for a 58th minute try.

They were building for another after a weak chip kick made by Maori fullback Shaun Stevenson was charged, allowing the home team to build again and in the process replacement hooker Robbie Abel was sin-binned for infringing at the breakdown.

The Eagles scored again with 11 minutes remaining when from a five-metre scrum they opted for from a penalty situation, Matyas got close to the line before in-passing to replacement halfback Ruben de Haas. He controlled the ball in spite of slipping to give No.8 Cam Dolan a chance which he took with ease to score their third try.

However, the Maori struck back when replacement first five-eighths Josh Ioane put a chip kick over the defence where Akira Ioane took the ball and raced into space before passing to wing Lowe who scored in the 72nd minute.

Josh Ioane was involved again moments later when running an Eagles downfield kick back at speed and passing to Stevenson who scored

Scorers: United States 22 (Ryan Matyas, Tim Maupin, Cam Dolan tries; Will Hooley 2 con, pen) Maori All Blacks 59 (Regan Ware, Mitch Karpik, Ash Dixon, Ben May, Isaia Walker-Leawere 2, Rob Thompson, Jonah Lowe, Shaun Stevenson tries; Otere Black 5 con; Josh Ioane 2 con). HT: 8-26

Mitch Karpik 1566170472


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