Clay Panga from the Westshore Vallhallians. Photo courtesy Rugby Canada
Clay Panga from the Westshore Valhallians. Photo courtesy Rugby Canada
A second half Todd Clever hat-trick spurred USA to a 30-22 win over Canada in the Americas Rugby Championship Saturday night in Austin, Texas. Canada got 15 points off the boot of Gordon McRorie while Duncan Maguire scored his first test try on debut but Clever’s three tries in just eight minutes powered the USA to their first win of the tournament.

“We had a few moments where we lacked concentration at some key moments,” interim head coach Francois Ratier said. “Missed tackles, penalties when we had the momentum, these little mistakes made the big difference.”

Leading 12-10 at the break, McRorie pushed Canada’s lead to 15-10 at the 45 minute mark before Clever went over in the 57th minute off of a driving maul. The Newcastle Falcon was in again four minutes as he powered over off of a driving maul from a lineout minutes after Alistair Clark had been sent to the sin bin to give the USA their first lead at 20-10.

After another driving maul had been established, Clever this time snuck out the back and dove over to secure his hat-trick in the 65th minute with Niku Kruger’s conversion extending the lead to 27-15.

Despite surrendering their lead, Canada came storming back as Maguire took a pop pass off the floor from fly half Gradyn Bowd before accelerating past the USA back line to grab his first test try. Andrew Ferguson added the conversion to secure the first test points of his career.

With Canada pressuring and attempting to force turnovers at the break down, they were eventually penalized and Kruger stepped up to slot home a vital three points to secure a 30-22 win.

“We were in good position in the first half and for one moment we lost that control with a few errors and our killer instinct,” Ratier said. “It doesn’t matter if we make a mistake, you just have to move on to the next phase. It’s a learning process. You can’t fix it in one game and that’s something the guys need to learn. Our team is young.”

Canada took a 12-10 lead into the break as McRorie’s right foot took care of business in the first half as the away side controlled the game for the vast majority of the opening 40 minutes.

The Prairie Wolf Pack star kicked Canada to a 6-0 lead inside the opening 20 minutes before James Bird got the USA on the board with a penalty of his own.

After McRorie had pushed the lead to 9-3, Chad London grabbed the night’s opening try as he took a Lemoto Filikitonga handoff and dove over for his first test try. Bird added the conversion for a 10-9 lead but Canada came roaring back immediately as McRorie hit his fourth penalty of the night to give the visitors a two-point edge at the break.

In addition to Ferguson and Maguire, Kyle Baillie and Liam Chisholm also made their test debuts for Canada in Saturday’s game.

“We were very good in the scrum, we were able to maintain our structure for most of the game and to play well in our structure,” Ratier said. “That’s a great positive. We need to now do it consistently rather than in periods of time.”

Canada is back home next Saturday as they host Brazil at Westhills Stadium in Langford, BC. Kickoff is 7pm ET /4pm PT and tickets are still available at events.rugbycanada.ca. The game will also be shown LIVE at www.rugbycanada.ca

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