Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
The USA Tomahawks have produced a sixteen point second half to silence the 8,019 strong crowd in Wrexham to win 24-16 and progress to the quarter finals in the World Cup.
After their shock defeat to Italy last week - over 8,000 Welsh supporters packed into the Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium to witness their side to brush aside the USA Tomahawks and keep their quarter finals hopes alive.
They couldn't have asked for a stronger start with a left side raid with St George Illawarra second-rower and Christiaan Roets combining for the latter to open the scoring for the Welsh Dragons.
It was an immediate reply from the Tomahawks when Matt Petersen was taken out chasing a bomb. Clint Newton steaming onto a short ball to cross to level proceedings.
Another penalty provided the launching pad for America to take the shock lead but this would be a minor jolt with bigger voltage to come. Joseph Paulo threw a lovely cut-out pass to send veteran winger Matt Petersen in for the four pointer.
The halftime pie wouldn't have gone down well around the Racecourse Stadium with the visitors holding a shock 8-4 lead. They were in full voice right after the resumption though as the Welsh based themselves on the Tomahawks line without any penetration.
This defensive effort would spur on the Tomahawks though as they would produce a nine minute salvo that would extinguish the Dragons hopes.
It was bookended by tries to two current NRL representatives in Paulo and Newton but the spirit shown in the American camp after any big play was a credit to the side. They forced the Welsh into errors which allowed Paulo to cross in the 56th minute.
Tui Samoa produced a wrecking ball effort reminiscent of a Miley Cyrus video clip. The forward kept his legs pumping close to the line eventually breaking free and slamming it down. Faint USA chants were ringing around the stadium while the Welsh drums were silenced.
Newton finished the glut in the 65th minute when he linked with the halfback Craig Preistly to cross adjacent to the uprights. Newton was mobbed by team-mates as the Tomahawks shocked the world once again.
"Shock the world" was the motto of the Tomahawks camp coming into the game against the Cook Island but no one suspected a sequel. None more than the Welsh who were probing without intent as the last pass was errant in several instances.
The Dragons sent the home crowd away with a slight smile as they produced the final two tries of sloppy but engaging contest throughout. Christisaan Roets earned himself a brace from a long range effort. Larne Patrick set off a mad-cap final minute with his latching on to a grubber putting the Welsh within eight.
Much like the previous 79 minutes though - Ben Flower found the ball in his hands after a right-hand side break but was inches short. The hooter sounded and the Tomahawks had done it again - setting up a possible quarter final date with the Australian Kangaroos.
Wales 16 United States 24
Venue: Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium
Halftime Score: United States 8-4
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Joseph Paulo
2 points - Clint Newton
1 point - Matt Petersen