(Santa Clara, California) Lock Kristian Ormsby collected four tries as the New Zealand Maori galloped to a 74-6 Churchill Cup win over the United States.
Making good use of turnovers and dexterously passing the ball out of tackle situations, the visitors ran in 12 tries, 6 in each half. Wing Cory Jane added a hat trick while flyhalf Matt Berquist tallied
12 14 points on 6 7 of 12 goalkicking.
“Running rugby suits our nature,” Ormsby said of his evening. “The conditions were ideal – we couldn’t ask for a better night.”
“I’m disappointed because our tackling again was poor and because our ball retention under pressure was poor. I’m disappointed because things looked so promising,” USA coach Peter Thorburn summarized.
The Eagles fell behind 17-6 after half an hour, having shown improved distribution among the inside backs and with fullback Francois Viljoen finding several gaps.
But inside center Pehi Te Whare’s 10-minute dismissal paradoxically seemed to energize the Maori, who scored two short-handed tries and added a third just before half. Comfortably defending the US attack, the Maori began creating turnovers and moved the spoils away to space.
Three Maori tries, two to Jane and one to Ormsby, came in the opening nine minutes of the second half, before both teams began to use the substitutes bench.
The USA’s best scoring chance came at 63 minutes, when replacement Mark Aylor was stopped short by Jane. In addition to the Wellington winger and man-of-the-match Ormsby, loosies Liam Messam, Thomas Waldrom, and Jake Paringatai were often prominent.
Some 30 points worse than the two teams’ 2004 meeting, the lopsided result compares with last season’s whitewash at the hands of Wales, and discredits the idea that changed coaching or selections would account for the gap between professional and amateur rugby players. Thorburn succeeded Tom Billups prior to the start of the 2006 season, and five of last night's starters are new to the test level.
After a Thursday training session devoted to recovery, the Eagles will disband until Sunday night, when the 28-man squad reassembles to fly to Edmonton, Calgary, for the last leg of the Churchill competition.
The squad is expected remain intact, save for injury-enforced changes, Thorburn said. While prop Mike MacDonald is due to have his stitches removed this weekend and flyhalf Mike Hercus (groin) could be available, the status of wing Jeff Hullinger (concussion), Hayden Mexted (thumb), and Viljoen (nose) is uncertain.
New Zealand Maori 74 United States 6 (halftime: Maori 36-6)
Penalties: Francois Viljoen (2)
Francois Viljoen (Brian Barnard); Brian Barnard (Mike Palefau), Salesi Sika, Vaha Esikia, Jeremy Nash; Jason Kelly (Alipate Tuilevuka), Mose Timoteo (Tyson Meek); Mike French (Chris Osentowski), Patrick Bell (Owen Lentz, John Tarpoff, Carl Hansen (Brian Schoener), Mike Mangan (Todd Clever), Todd Clever (Mark Aylor), Tony Petruzzella, Kort Schubert (captain)
New Zealand Maori
Tries: Kristian Ormsby (4), Cory Jane (3), Liam Messam (2), Zar Lawrence, Shannon Paku, Noble
Conversions: Matt Berquist (7)
Shannon Paku (Anthony Tahana); Zar Lawrence, Richard Kahui, Pehi Te Whare, Cory Jane; Matt Berquist, Chris Smyley (Corey Tamou); Greg Feek, Luke Mahoney, Mike Noble, Kristian Ormsby, Paul Tito (captain, Ross Filipo), Thomas Waldrom, (Jono Gibbes), Liam Messam, Jake Paringatai
Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)