Hosts Uruguay A set up a winner-takes-all clash with Samoa A on day two of the World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge 2018 in Montevideo.
Uruguay scored two tries in the final 10 minutes of each half to secure a bonus-point 33-18 defeat of USA Select XV on Wednesday. Victory maintains the home side’s perfect record in this year’s competition and leaves them top of Pool A, a point ahead of Samoa, and three ahead of defending champions Argentina XV in the overall standings.
Samoa top Pool B having beaten Tonga A 23-15 in the day’s opening game. However, they were unable to secure a bonus point, meaning they slipped behind the hosts in the race to be crowned champions.
The team with the highest points tally across the two pools following Sunday’s final round will be awarded the title.
Argentina XV can still mathematically secure a third successive title, following their one-sided 45-5 win over Canada A, but they would need to secure a bonus-point victory over the USA Selects and hope Samoa A draw with Uruguay A.
Tonga A 15-23 Samoa A
Johnny Vaili scored two second-half tries as Samoa A continued their perfect start to the Americas Pacific Challenge with a 23-15 defeat of an indisciplined Tonga A.
The Samoans began in dominant mood, and having been camped inside the Tongan 22 from kick-off opened the scoring as second-row Ikifusi Matamu powered over from close range. Centre D’Angelo Leuila added the extras to give them a seven-point lead.
Tonga A began to grow into the game in the second quarter and after fly-half Saia Fililava had spurned one penalty, he got his country on the scoreboard at the second attempt.
The men in red were enjoying their best spell of the half, and took the lead when a set move in midfield released Manase Folau into space on the left wing. He was caught by the Samoan defence but scrum-half John Ika was given quick ball at the breakdown and he found captain Solomone Kioa, who ran through a couple of defenders to score.
Fililava missed the conversion, and it would prove costly as a pair of Leuila penalties gave Samoa A a five-point lead at half-time.
Tongan prop Anthony Aholelei had been sin-binned just before the break and Samoa took full advantage, Vaili finishing well in the left corner following a searing break from Leuila.
The Tongans refused to buckle, however, and pulled within three points before the 50-minute mark as Aholelei was adjudged to have made the line moments after returning to the field.
But they didn’t have parity of numbers for long, fly-half Fililava shown a yellow card within two minutes for a high tackle. Another good finish from Vaili, who beat two defenders before handing off a third, stretched the Samoan lead once more.
Although there were more than 25 minutes to play neither side would trouble the scorers as Samoa A held on for a second successive victory. There was, though, time for a third Tongan yellow card, as Folau was sent to the sin-bin for playing the ball on the ground at the breakdown.
Uruguay A 33-18 USA Select XV
Uruguay A made it two wins from two after a brace of tries in the closing 10 minutes helped give the hosts a 33-18 win over the USA Select XV in Montevideo.
The Americans edged the opening quarter and two Dylan Audsley penalties – either side of a successful Federico Favaro kick – gave them a narrow 6-3 lead.
And after a cagey first 25 minutes the game burst into life following the sin-binning of home prop Mateo Sanguinetti for a no-arms tackle.
But it was the hosts, rather than the USA Selects, who rallied after the prop’s departure, putting in a period of pressure on the American line that eventually told as scrum-half Santiago Arata darted over from close range.
Uruguay A extended their lead moments after Sanguinetti returned to the field, too, Favaro judging Andres de Leon’s cross-field kick perfectly to dot down.
Ryan Matyas hauled the USA Selects back into contention on the stroke of half-time as he outstripped the home defence to score a brilliant solo effort in the right corner and cut his side’s deficit to four points.
Favaro stretched the Uruguayan lead to seven points with a penalty early in the second half, but soon after that advantage was wiped out as Audsley danced over from close range following an electric break from fly-half JP Eloff.
However, the Americans were unable to make use of the momentum that try generated and their hosts slowly regained the upper hand.
The USA Selects had already won a vital scrum penalty on their own line when three points from Favaro edged Uruguay in front with around 24 minutes remaining.
And the home side made sure of victory with two tries in the final seven minutes as Arata snagged his second try of the match, before Andres Vilaseca secured a bonus point in stoppage time.
Argentina XV 45-5 Canada A
Canada A shipped seven tries as Argentina XV reignited their Americas Pacific Challenge campaign with a 45-5 victory that propelled them into the hunt for this year’s title.
Both sides had lost their opening match but the South Americans started strongly in the day’s final encounter, scoring the game’s first try as Facundo Cordero stepped off his wing and breezed through a gap in the defence with less than eight minutes gone.
Cordero grabbed his second try of the match as the game entered its second quarter, finishing smartly in the left corner.
Within two minutes the South Americans stretched their lead again as Agustin Segura dotted down in the right corner after the Argentine forwards had pummelled against the goal-line. Canada A's challenge was disappearing and their woes mounted when fly-half Gordon McRorie was sent to the sin-bin for a tip-tackle in the build-up to Segura’s score.
The North Americans would concede a fourth before the break when Segura picked a line and powered over from 10 metres to secure a try-bonus point.
Canada A needed a miracle to get anything from the game but kept plugging away and threatened the Argentine line early in the second half, only for winger Brock Staller to knock just yards out.
Argentina XV had, perhaps understandably, taken their foot off the gas but signalled their intention to hunt tries by kicking a penalty in front of the posts to the corner in the 52nd minute. They didn’t have to wait long for their fifth score, pressure at scrum time telling six minutes later when they were awarded a penalty try.
As the game ticked past the hour-mark the Argentinians touched down for a sixth time, Cordero turning provider as his looped pass found Matias Osadczuk on the right wing and the replacement did the rest.
Canada A got themselves on the scoreboard with a little over 15 minutes remaining, full-back Theo Sauder displaying good strength to hand off three defenders and dot down in the left corner. But any joy they felt was short-lived as Argentina XV rounded off the scoring less than two minutes later through replacement scrum-half Gregorio Del Prete.
RWC 2019 Tickets
RWC 2019 Official Ticketing site NOW LIVE
Fans can now register interest to apply for Rugby World Cup 2019 tickets