USA became the first winners of La Vila International Rugby Cup in Villajoyosa with a 42-12 win over Spain, giving captain Nate Brakeley the perfect send-off.
Second-row Brakeley was playing in his 34th and final test having announced his plans to retire in the build-up to Saturday’s final, and the US Men’s Eagles overcame a shaky start to ensure the man from Massachusetts finished on a winning note.
Job. Done.— USA Rugby (@USARugby) November 18, 2023
TRY | N. McCarthy, N. Augspurger, D. Fawsitt, Penalty, J. Mano
CONV | L. Carty (2), C. Mattina
PK | L. Carty (2), C. Mattina pic.twitter.com/ICAJtJvq4s
After 16 scoreless minutes, Spain struck first when Matthew Foulds crashed over, Iñaki Mateu converting for a 7-0 lead.
Shortly after, Ekain Imaz had to leave the field injured and Spain struggled to cope with the loss of their strong ball-carrying number eight.
A couple of penalties from Luke Carty then closed the gap to a point before Nick McCarthy scored to send USA into a 13-7 half-time lead.
The two vice-captains exchanged tries in a matter of minutes at the start of the season half, USA scrum-half Nate Augspurger followed over by Spain second-row, Mario Pichardie.
From then on, though, all the momentum was with the US Men’s Eagles, with tries from Dylan Fawsitt and Joe Mano coming either side of a penalty try.
Canada come from behind
In the third-place play-off at El Pantano Stadium, a hat-trick of tries from captain Lucas Rumball was the highlight as Canada beat Brazil 40-15.
Canada failed to get the good start they were hoping for after a poor first half in the semi-final against Spain and found themselves 10-0 down after Douglas Rauth scored for Os Tupis and Lucas Tranquez added the conversion and a penalty.
But inspired by their captain, Canada hit back and Rumball’s first two tries, converted by Peter Nelson, handed them a 14-10 half-time lead.
Similar to how the USA-Spain game panned out later in the day, the second half was a one-sided affair with Canada taking control of the scoreboard.
Matt Oworu scored his maiden test try before Cole Keith, a try-scorer against Spain, added his name to the scoresheet.
Nelson made no mistake with the conversions on each of those occasions, but was off target after Andrew Coe pushed the score out to 33-10 with their fifth try.
Wilton Rebolo stemmed the flow of points with Brazil’s second 15 minutes from time, but Rumball’s hat-trick try rounded off the scoring and a much-needed win for Canada.