Steven Birchall, NRL.com
For the first time in Rugby League history, a team from the United States will feature in a World Cup after the USA Tomahawks defeated Jamaica 40 - 4 in the final match of the Atlantic World Cup qualifiers.
The Tomahawks will now join tournament co-hosts, Wales and the Cook Islands in Group D of the tournament which will be held across the United Kingdom.
“It is fantastic to achieve the opportunity to represent USA rugby league in the World Cup,” said a jubilant captain Apple Pope post match.
“Jamaica deserves enormous credit but a massive thank you has to be paid to our coach Matty Elliott who instilled an ethic around working hard for success which all the boys committed themselves to and it paid off.”
After a tight and physical first half, Pope inspired his side to a terrific second half performance which saw the home side score 34 unanswered points, a final scoreline that didn’t truly reflect how tough of a match it was.
Only two tries were scored in the first half, with the first points coming in the 26th minute when Sheffield forward, Corey Hanson finally broke through the solid American defence to setup a four point lead for the visitors.
That was the only time the Jamaicans lead for the match, with a Stephen Howard try in the 36th minute, and a successful conversion from Joseph Paulo giving the home team a 6 – 4 lead at the break.
The Jamaicans attempted to hit back early in the second half, and despite some quality possession and field position, they were unable to crack the Tomahawks defence. Two quick tries then to David Marando and Mitchell Stevens, plus a string of penalties gave the Americans an 18 – 4 lead by the hour mark, and sapped the visitors energy.
Four tries in the final 10 minutes of the match sealed the victory for the States, and saw the home team reach the 40 point mark for the second time this tournament.
Commenting after the match, Tomahawks prop Mark Offerdahl was over the moon with the result “Playing for a spot in the World Cup was a huge motivator. We concentrated on what we could do best and it paid off. We were confident that if we put everything together - and we did - we would win.”
Tries: Stephen Howard, David Marando, Mitchell Stevens, Mark Cantoni, David Myles, Danny Howard, Mark Offerdahl
Goals: Joseph Paulo 6 from 9
Team: Matthew Peterson, Sione Taufa, Mitchell Stevens, Ryan McGoldrick, Michael Garvey, David Myles, David Marando, Junior Paulo, Apple Pope (c), Mark Offerdahl, Danny Howard, Mark Cantoni, Joseph Paulo. Subs: Stephen Howard, Sean Taylor, Curtis Cunz, Andrew Kneisly
Tries: Corey Hanson
Goals: Jymel Coleman 0 from 1
Team: Paul White (c), Waine Pryce, Omari Caro, Richie Barnett, Wayne Rettie, Karl Pryce, Jymel Coleman, Lamont Bryan, Jamaine Wray, Jode Sherriffe, Daniel Bravo, Corey Hanson, Joe Brown. Subs: Ryan Grant, Ashley Johnson, Tyronie Rowe, Ross Peltier