The Heartland XV trailed the USA Select XV 6-14 at halftime but a tactical substitution and some improved forward control saw them get home in the second half.
West Coast first-five Corey Simpson came on in the second half and, using the high altitude to his advantage, was able to gain significant kicking yards to give his team territory and field position, while he also nailed a 55-metre penalty.
Mid Canterbury winger Brenton Connell scored the Heartland XV’s only try after making a tackle, repossessing the ball and toeing ahead. Poverty Bay second five-eighth Scott Leighton’s sideline conversion and a 45-metre drop goal gave his side a hard-fought win.
Coach Peter Kemp said he was very pleased with the win as the opposition were a strong side containing several professional players released back from their European clubs.
“We had to hold on and defend for pretty much all of the first 50 minutes but our set pieces were excellent and once we gained a bit of momentum I knew we could crack them.”
Kemp also said the tour was a great success and would benefit rugby in New Zealand.
“It was an outstanding group of guys to take away and they’ll be able to share their experiences and learnings with their clubs and provinces when they get back.”
NZ Heartland XV: 19
Try: Brenton Connell. Conversion: Scott Leighton. Drop goal: Scott Leighton. Penalties: Scott Leighton (2), Corey Simpson (1).
USA Select XV: 14