By Jarrod Beckstrom, USA Rugby
STANFORD, Calif. – The USA Men’s Collegiate All-Americans fell three points shy (20-23) of a three-game sweep of the New Zealand Universities on Saturday at Steuber Rugby Stadium on the campus of Stanford University.
The All-Americans defeated the touring team 60-17 in the opening match of the tour last Saturday and 21-11 in the second on Wednesday. However in the final encounter, New Zealand played a very physical and opportunistic brand of rugby to win.
Big Dartmouth lock, Nate Brakeley, opened the scoring with a try in the opening five minutes and the Americans were off with a bang. They extended their lead through a JP Eloff penalty.
New Zealand answered back with a score and so it would go for the rest of the game, an American score and a response from the New Zealanders by try or by penalty.
Kyle Grossheider (Life University) scored next for the All-Americans, but the New Zealand Universities outside center scooted over for a try to answer back and the scores were 15-14, the hosts with a slight lead.
Peter Tiberio was back at his electric best and scored his fifth try of the series from a kickoff, throwing a convincing dummy and backing his speed to get to the line. That would be the last score of the game for the All-Americans. Gritty defense and last-gasp offense would define the remaining time for the hosts.
New Zealand evidently rated the All-American defense and opted for points whenever the opportunity arose. That tactic would prevail and three consecutive successful penalties gave the visiting Kiwis a three-point advantage that would hold for the remainder of the game.
All-American Peter Tiberio was scored five tries in three games, including a hat trick in the opener. CollegiatePhotos.com
The All-Americans didn’t go without a fight and built up some great phases in the waning moments of the encounter to try and salvage a win but a knock on derailed the buildup and the ref blew the final whistle to the chagrin of the Americans and pure delight of the Kiwis.
“This was a tough loss after a great tour,” said All-Americans head coach Alexander Magleby. “We played decently well in spurts, but we tired out a little it seemed.”
The All-Americans’ decision-making wasn’t always perfect, but that is a “learning opportunity moving forward,” according to Magleby.
The coach also noted that he and the entire All-Americans staff was very proud of the way the team trained and played the last two weeks.
The game will be webcast on a tape-delayed basis and will appear on USA Rugby’s UStream channel next week.