Both Craig Priestly and Damien O’Malveney took the week off from the Southampton Dragons, a local rugby team, to play for the USA Tomahawks National team on Saturday as it battled Canada at Lamport Stadium in Toronto.
The Tomahawks lost 36-20 in what was a come-from-behind victory for the Wolverines.
Saturday’s match was the first of three “friendly’s” between the two countries. The second match will be played in Philadelphia on Saturday, August 24, and the final game will be played back in Toronto on September 28.
The Tomahawks are mostly made up of players from the American National Rugby League (AMNRL), which the Southampton Dragons compete in during the summer. But the national team also features players from Hawaii who play in a league connected to the AMNRL.
The three matches against Canada are primarily opportunities for the coaching staff of the national team to get a look at U.S.-based players so they can fill spots on the 24-man squad for the Rugby League World Cup, which will be played in England in October.
The United States held a 16-10 advantage at halftime over Canada on Saturday and, at the time, things were looking up for the Tomahawks. “We held a real good lead,” Priestly said. “We completed our sets, held on to the ball and dominated the first half.”
But with 20 minutes remaining in the game, the United States, which had built up a 20-10 lead, saw its advantage vanish in quick fashion.
According to www.rlwc2013.com, Saturday’s win was just the second for Canada over the United States since 2010.
“They just wanted it more,” Priestly said. “They kept coming at us try after try and capitalized on our mistakes. We didn’t complete our sets and we kept dropping the ball.”
Priestly scored a try for the Tomahawks and kicked two goals. He and the rest of the Dragons are scheduled to return to action this Saturday when they visit the Northern Virginia Eagles. For more information on the Dragons, go to www.southamptondragons.com.