The CanAm Grizzlies were back, this time at the Cabramatta Nines, to show what North American Rugby League has to offer.
The team representing Canada and USA didn’t disappoint, making it through to the quarter finals after coming through pool G in first place in the nine-a-side tournament.
The Grizzlies drew the Ozzy Cooks first, representing the Cook Islands. The Cooks were first to score and held the lead for almost all of the 18 minute match. The Grizzlies were down by 10 points to 8 with only 3 minutes remaining, with tries to USA’s Kevin Reed Jr and Danny Howard.The Cooks looked likely to extend their lead after a line break but Canadian speedster Steven Adu managed to chase down their player and make a tackle with less than ten metres to the try line. The Grizzlies then took the lead after shifting the ball left to Taylor Welch to score in the corner, winning the match 12-10. The win was the first time any US players faced the Cook Islands since their victory in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
Samoa was the next challenge, who had defeated Malta in their first clash and had a lot of size about their team. Tikiko Noke busted straight through the line early in the clash and scored under the post, then converted his try to give the Grizzlies an 6-0 lead. Canadian Justin Fish scored in the left corner, then Reed and Tyrone Shelley showed their pace to score long range tries to take the lead to a comfortable 20-4 lead. Samoa then scored on the final play of the match, with the Grizzlies winning 20-10.
The two consecutive wins saw the Grizzlies finish first in their pool, setting up a quarter final match the Ireland, the winners of pool H.
The Grizzlies started off in the ideal fashion, with Howard picking up the ball from a short kick off to score his second try of the day, followed by Welch scoring his second. Ireland quickly capitalised to trail 10-6 to the Grizzlies and followed this up with two more tries to lead 16-10. The Grizzlies and Ireland then traded tries to finish the match at 20-16 to Ireland in a tough clash which saw one Irish player sent off in the second half. The Quarter final loss was the end to the Grizzlies’ Cabramatta 9s campaign, which was a successful result for the side.
Whilst disappointed with the quarter final loss, captain Danny Howard found many more positives out of the day for the two emerging nations. “It was great to get together with the North American boys for another hit out following our win against the Latin Heat last year, Rugby League and the Cabramatta Nines in particular is great for bringing different cultures together.There is nothing like scoring a try for a team you are passionate about representing,” Howard said.
The Cabramatta Rugby Leagues Club side won the tournament, defeating Ireland in the final.
Steven Adu, Justin Fish, Danny Howard, Ricky Jones, Peter Lee, David Marando, Sean McInroy, Jope Moala, Tikiko Noke, Barak Pauls, Kevin Reed Jr, Tyrone Shelley, Mitch Stanfield, Taylor Welch, Aaron Zimmerle.