By Robert Burgin, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 3/11/13
The Dragons will be out to end a fairytale, as the Welsh tackle the upstart Americans in Wrexham on Sunday (Monday morning Australian time).
A win is an absolute necessity for co-host Wales to progress out of Group D, following a first-up loss to Italy.
In the USA it will face yet another long-shot which has come from the clouds to be among the challengers for the quarter-finals.
Wales has the benefit of homeground advantage all the way through the tournament and will on this occasion appear at the most populous town of northern Wales.
Well-known for its leather industry past, the former haven of skinners and tanners is also home to the tricky-to-pronounce Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium.
Though the Americans may be tongue-tied in asking for directions to the ground, the World Cup outsiders certainly won’t be overawed.
Indeed, Tomahawks spearhead Craig Priestly has already been quoted saying the team has ambitions to beat Australia – the likely opponent for the winner of Group D.
Conversely, the Welsh issued a press release going into the match urging for as much crowd support as possible, a sign they know they will be in for a tough task.
In what is arguably the most even pool group, Wales only trailed Italy 14-12 at halftime of its first appearance before losing 32-16 in a late flurry by the Azzurri.
It was a similar tale in USA’s first game, where the Tomahawks were level 10-all at the break with Cook Islands, before pulling away for a 32-20 win.
Centre Lelauloto Tagaloa, a cultural dancer in Hawaii, was credited for 161m gained in his last match, remarkable considering he has limited experience in the 13-man game.
Tagaloa narrowly edged out Wests Tigers forward and USA teammate Eddy Pettybourne, who amassed 151m and is set to be a handful again.
Wales’ leader for metres gained in Round One was Elliott Kear (116m), who also boasted the most carries with 18.
A utility back with the Bradford Bulls, Kear was in the same class at school as superstar Real Madrid player Gareth Bale, an £85.3million transfer signing.
Interestingly, whichever team takes out Group D will have to return to Wrexham again when the quarter-finals are staged.
WALES: Neil Budworth, Ross Divorty, Gil Dudson, Jacob Emmitt, Ben Evans, Rhys Evans, Ben Flower, Tyson Frizzell, Jordan James, Elliott Kear, Craig Kopczak, Peter Lupton, Larne Patrick, Christiaan Roets, Matt Seamark, Anthony Walker, Ian Webster, Lloyd White, Rhys Williams.
USA: Bureta Faraimo, Kristian Freed, Michael Garvey, Roman Hifo, Daniel Howard, Judah Lavulo, Haveatama Luani, David Marando, Clint Newton, Mark Offendahl, Joseph Paulo, Matthew Petersen, Edward Pettybourne, Craig Priestly, Tuisegasega Samoa, Matthew Shipway, Les Soloai, Lelauloto Tagaloa, Taylor Welch.