The Pacific Islanders won all three of their games to finish top of the pile while dethroned champions, Argentina XV, finished runners-up after overwhelming the USA Select XV 55-15.
Canada A signed off on a winning note too, putting the disappointment of earlier defeats to Argentina XV and Uruguay A behind them to edge Tonga A 32-31. The result prevented Kingsley Jones’ side finishing bottom of the standings for a second consecutive year and comes as a timely boost ahead of the Canucks’ involvement in the Rugby World Cup Repechage tournament in Marseilles next month.
URUGUAY A 26-38 SAMOA A
With both teams having won their opening two games, it was all but mathematically certain that a new name would be on the World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge trophy after two years of Argentinean dominance.
Cheered on by an enthusiastic home crowd, Uruguay A took a fifth-minute lead when experienced hooker German Kessler was driven over from close range for a converted try.
Uruguay A had the chance to extend their advantage into double figures, but Federico Favaro was unable to kick a penalty opportunity.
Instead if was Samoa A who had the next points of the board, through scrum-half Ionatana Tino, who showed good strength to muscle his way over.
With Alai Leuila converting and adding a penalty, Samoa A had a 10-7 lead just past the half-hour mark. But Kessler’s second try, from another concerted forward effort, sent the home side into the break 12-10 up.
Despite losing winger Johnny Samuelu to an early sin-bin for a dangerous tackle, Samoa A scored the first points of the second half when full-back Bradford Lemalufaitoaga showed good footballing skills before touching down for a try which Leuila improved.
Uruguay A’s forward might earnt them a penalty try in the 57th minute but Samoa A upped their game to score 21 unanswered points and take the game away from the South Americans.
Tries from Samuelu, Danny Tusitala and Iakopo Petelo, in a devastating 15-minute period, silenced the crowd before replacement hooker Manuel Ardao grabbed a late consolation for Uruguay A.
ARGENTINA XV 55-15 USA SELECT XV
Argentina put the disappointment of missing out on a hat-trick of APC titles to one side to emphatically beat the USA Select XV and finish on a high.
Eight different players got their names on the scoresheet in a win that saw Ignacio Lobbe’s men finish as runners-up.
The US team actually took the lead in the seventh minute when winger Ryan Matyas finished off a slick handling move.
However, that only served to galvanise the Argentine outfit that was still hurting from its opening round defeat to Samoa A.
Joaquin Diaz Bonilla converted his own 18th-minute try and scores from Lucas Favre and Facundo Brarda with a five-pointer from Leopoldo Herrera sandwiched in between.
Matyas scored again early in the second half to give the North Americans hope but the Argentines doubled their try tally through Matias Osadczuk, Santiago Grondona, Lucas Mensa, Rodrigo Bruni in a totally one-sided last half an hour.
It was a disappointing end to the APC for the USA Select with a third straight defeat condemning them to last place in the standings.
TONGA A 31-32 CANADA A
Canada A pulled off a come-from-behind victory over their Tongan counterparts to boost morale ahead of next month’s Rugby World Cup 2019 repechage tournament.
Kingsley Jones side outscored the Islanders five tries to three but the result could easily have been different had Saia Fililava not let 11 possible points slip through four missed kicks.
Canada’s forwards showed their dominance from the opening scrum, winning countless penalties off set-piece and setting a perfect platform for the backs.
Winger Kainoa Lloyd showed his class by scoring a hat trick, while Ray Barkwill also touched down in the victory. The final try of the match to seal the win was a penalty try, awarded by referee Derek Summers. Fly-half Gordon McRorie also added 10 points from the tee.
Tonga held a 22-13 half-time lead thanks to Irwin Finau’s double and an earlier try from Manase Folau; however, they were unable to find a way through Canada’s defence in the second period and two penalties and a drop goal from Fililava ultimately were not enough.