Host nation Canada-A will face two-time defending Americas Rugby Championship champions Argentina Jaguars on Saturday in a winner-takes-all final after defeating USA Select 23-3 on Tuesday. Argentina’s bid for a treble of titles remains on course following a 21-10 win over South American rivals Uruguay.
The Jaguars got off to an unconvincing start against Uruguay, conceding penalty after penalty at the breakdown until referee Bryan Arciero’s patience finally wore thin in the ninth minute, when he issued a yellow card to fly half Valentin Cruz.
Uruguay full back Jeronimo Etcheverry stepped up to kick the resulting penalty to hand his side an early 3-0 lead.
But that was as good as it got for Uruguay for the remainder of the half in terms of points on the board, and the scores were tied at 3-3 after Cruz kicked a penalty minutes after returning to the field of play.
The Jaguars finally broke through to score the first of two tries on the night, when, five minutes before the interval, left wing Matias Massera finished off a fine move started just inside their own half. The conversion went wide but Cruz was successful with a penalty attempt on the stroke of half time to hand the Jaguars an 11-3 advantage.
Cruz added another three-pointer three minutes into the second period after Uruguay flanker Agustin Alonso was found guilty of not rolling away in the tackle, an offence which earned him a yellow card.
By now Uruguay were under constant pressure and the Jaguars added a second try through wing Facundo Barrea on 53 minutes, which Cruz improved to make the score 21-3.
Uruguay continued to show plenty of spirit and they were rewarded for their efforts when replacement front rower, Oscar Duran, barged over the line from a lineout catch-and-drive move. Etcheverry was successful with the conversion for a final score of 21-10 to Argentina.
Crowley excited by Saturday showdown
A crowd of 2,273 turned up to see Canada A book their place in the final at the expense of USA Select.
Canada outscored their opponents three tries to nil in a 23-3 win, and Head Coach Kieran Crowley is looking forward to the challenge of facing Argentina Jaguars in Saturday’s title shoot-out.
“We’re excited to be in this position. It’s basically a one game, winner takes all scenario and we hope it’s us,” he said.
Canada A struggled for momentum in the first half after turning over too much possession, but they were still too strong for their cross-border rivals, establishing a 13-3 lead through two Conor Braid penalties and his conversion of a penalty try. USA’s lone points came from the boot of full back Zachary Pangelinan.
Two tries in the space of five minutes either side of the hour mark killed the game off as a contest. Jordan Wilson-Ross was first to go over after taking a pass from Canadian captain Tyler Ardron before he turned provider to set up fellow wing Clayton Meeres for the final scoring act of the game on 65 minutes.
Meeres’ joy turned to disappointment a minute later when he was yellow-carded for a dangerous shoulder barge.
The numbers on either side, though, were soon evened up after USA Select flanker John Quill was sent off on 68 minutes for dragging an opponent to the ground by his hair.
USA Select and Uruguay will meet in Saturday’s opening match at Westhills Stadium, kick off 5.30pm, while the Championship decider between Canada A and Argentina Jaguars gets underway at 7.30pm. A sell-out crowd is expected for what should be a thrilling finale.