Colin Cooper praises spirit of Maori All Blacks after USA victory

Getty Images     11 Nov 2013     Getty Images

The Maori All Blacks ran in four tries to one to defeat the USA 29-19 in today’s second and final match of the North American Tour.

The win followed a 40-15 victory over Canada last Monday in the opening match of the tour.

The USA led the Maori All Blacks 9-7 at the break, but two tries to captain Tim Bateman saw the team race to a 19-9 lead before the Eagles scored a penalty and converted try to close the gap to three points with eight minutes to go. A last minute try to replacement lock Luke Katene on debut sealed the victory for the Maori All Blacks.

“We knew the USA would provide a tough test and they competed hard at every phase," said Colin Cooper. "They were very physical, very committed and we nearly let them in at the end, but the boys showed plenty of determination to nail the win, so I am really pleased with the overall performance.

"Conditions were excellent and we stuck to our game plan so we certainly got the result we wanted. The difference really in the end was the spirit of the team. We used our energy and our culture to come together when it really mattered. When a group of men unite like that in front of what was an electric crowd, it was really special and a huge highlight for me personally.”

The Maori All Blacks crossed the line 10 times in their two matches playing to sell-out crowds in Toronto and Philadelphia. Today’s match was played in front of a capacity 18,500 crowd at PPL Park on the city’s waterfront.

“Our intention at the start of the tour was to honour the proud legacy of the teams that have gone before us so we’re really pleased we could do that. We were also determined to show how this team could be part of the pathway to higher honours for players and we have certainly learnt much over the short time we have had together.

“This has also been a great opportunity to showcase our brand of rugby to North American fans and hopefully help to convert more fans so I am really pleased we could play our part in two exciting matches.

“The game here is definitely making big strides and it’s been a real privilege to play such great teams. We are also incredibly grateful for the hospitality our hosts in both countries have shown us and their keenness to understand our culture.

"I would also like to thank New Zealand Rugby for allowing us to put this team together and for AIG for helping us get over here. It has been a wonderful experience on many levels for all of us.”

Scorers: USA Eagles 19 (Cameron Dolan try; Adam Siddal con, 4 pen) Maori All Blacks 29 (Jamison Gibson-Park, Tim Bateman 2, Luke Katene tries; Robbie Robinson 3 con, pen). HT: 9-7