USA edges Jamaica
The USA Hawks have snapped their four-game losing streak with a closely played 30-26 win against Jamaica in the last international game of 2023 for both countries.
The match, held at the University of West Indies’ MONA Bowl in Kingston on Saturday, was played in very warm and dry conditions.
In what was the first game in over a year for both teams, the US had the better of the opening stanza but couldn’t convert that advantage into points. In the opening 10 minutes, the Americans had two well-constructed scoring opportunities but blew both chances through errant passes and poor ball handling.
On the flipside, the Reggae Warriors were on the back foot yet were still able to keep their tryline intact and were the first to score against the run of play when a winger dotted down out wide following the first big forward bust of the game set up the try.
The home team followed up a few minutes later when some nifty short passing in front of the posts resulted in a converted try for a 10-0 lead about 15 minutes into the match.
At around the midway point of the half, the US forwards, led by Joe Eichner and Malcolm Webb started to string together some bustling runs that saw the Hawks take control of the tempo of the game which set the platform for their overall dominance.
Webb was the first to score, but the attempted conversion missed for a 10-4 scoreline in Jamaica’s favor.
From that point on the Hawks dictated most of the play, mainly through their forward pack, and the Americans scored twice more to end the half with a 14-10 lead.
The second half was more or less tit for tat with both teams adding 16 points to their tallies.
USA head coach Sean Rutgerson says he was obviously pleased with the result.
“It was good to win,” he tells Rugby League Planet. “The men worked hard playing a good bit of defense and I’m happy with their effort.
“The growth of rugby league was apparent with all of the fans in the stands and those joining online.
“I’m excited for the future of rugby league in the US.”
The win ended a four-game skid for the Hawks who last won a match in 2018 when they beat Chile in the Americas region qualifying series for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup. It has also extended their win-loss record against the Jamaicans to 7-2 since they first met back in 2009.
As for the Reggae Warriors, their side was largely made up of home-based players, with the bulk of their overseas-based guys taking a pass on this game.
Jamaica’s last victory was against the US in 2019. Since then, they have lost seven games and tied one.