TAMPA, FL – Last Saturday, the USA Rugby League (USARL) South squad defeated the North side 38-32 in the USARL’s All-Star Game. As earlier agreed upon by both sides, the teams played the contest on the grounds of Tampa Catholic High School in Tampa, FL.
In this match-up featuring top-level USARL players from across the country, the squads frequently swapped leads before the South (wearing red) pulled away in the second half. The North sported blue shirts.
Although the South scores first, the North takes the lead before halftime
Only five minutes into the game, Nick Newlin, Captain for the South squad, scored the game’s opening points, securing the matchup’s opening try. Unfortunately, Jonathan Halter missed the conversion kick, keeping the South’s lead at 4 to 0. Just three minutes later, Brett Witte scored the South’s second try. After Halter’s successful conversion kick, the South took a 10 to 0 lead over the North.
However, twelve minutes into the game, Tyler Elkins answered for the North side, scoring his team’s first try. After (Captain) Matt Walsh’s successful kick, the South’s advantage was cut to four points. Approximately ten minutes later, Matt Walsh scored the North’s second try and conversion, giving his side a 12 to 10 lead over the South. Following this try, the South’s Oche Armstrong scored a try 25 minutes into the game. After the successful conversion kick by Halter, the South regained the advantage, leading the North 16 to 12.
Just before the first half ended, the North tacked on two more unconverted tries. With three minutes left in the first half, Alex Foster scored a try, tying his side back up with the South 16 to 16. As the final moments of time ticked away going into halftime, Sterling Wynn secured one more try for the North. With this score, Wynn gave his side a 20 to 16 lead going into halftime.
In the end, the South rises again to finish with the win
Just four minutes into the second half, Joe Eichner scored an unconverted try for the South squad to tie the game up 20 to 20. Only six minutes later, Newlin and Halter combined a try and a conversion to give the South side a 26 to 20 lead over the North. Approximately seventeen minutes into the second half, Gunnar Johnson scored a try for the North team. After Walsh’s successful conversion kick, the North had tied the game at 26.
However, the South squad was far from finished with scoring for the day. About twenty-two minutes into the second half, Hiko Malu, Man of the Match for the South, scored his first try of the day. After Halter’s conversion kick, the South took a six point advantage over the North. With just seven minutes left in the game, Jonathan St. John scored his first try of the game. Following the try, Halter once again successfully kicked the conversion. After the conversion kick, the South held a 38 to 26 over the North.
Nevertheless, the North side would score once more just before full time. Tyler Hawkins scored a try, with Matt Walsh successfully kicking the conversion. At the end of regulation, the South had risen again to finish with a 38 to 32 win over the North.
Following the match, Rugby Wrap Up (RWU) had the opportunity to speak with USARL South Coach Dan Slagle and South Captain Nick Newlin to talk about their side’s performance.
Coach Dan Slagle: “Overall, this was a good win. In this game, I saw some fine Rugby League playing out there. As a whole, the game followed the rules of Rugby League well. Also importantly, the game was hard fought, and both sides played well. In the end, we (South) did what we wanted and needed to do to get the win. Fortunately, everything worked out for us.”
Captain Nick Newlin: “First of all, the game was a lot of fun. With this being a North vs. South game, we (South) did not know exactly what to expect, this being a North vs. South game. Most importantly, everyone had a good time. During the match, here were a lot of big hits, and a lot of good scoring. For us, that is the bottom line – to have some fun and represent the USARL.”
RWU also spoke with USARL North Coach Brent Richardson and North Captain Matt Walsh, as they provided feedback about their squad’s defeat.
Coach Brent Richardson: “While this was a good game, it was disappointing to lose. After taking the lead at halftime, we (North) thought we could motor in the win. However, after they (South) scored another try, it was harder to close the gap. Overall, I was really proud of the way our guys competed today. While We worked hard, we got unlucky in the end. Most importantly, this is a game to build on. Hopefully, next year, we can come back and grab the win back from the South.”
Captain Matt Walsh: “Regardless of the outcome, this was a good game. While there were plenty of good adjustments, we (North) made a couple of mistakes at key times in the wrong areas. Also of importance, we had good talent out on the field. Finally, there were good runs and good kicking.”
At this time, there is nothing more to share. As always, please feel free to comment below. Also, make sure to look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and please follow us on Twitter@: @RugbyWrapUp, @BrianCCole, @Junoir Blaber, @MeetTheMatts, @LukeBienstock, @Ronan Nelson, @GeHar and @Declan Yeats.
P.s… To learn more about the Jacksonville Axemen, please visit the club’s website. For more information about the Atlanta Rhinos, please visit the club’s website. To learn more about the Central Florida Warriors, please visit the team’s website. For more information about the Tampa Mayhem, please visit the team’s website. For additional information about the USA Rugby League (USARL), please visit the USARL website.