Rugby League World Cup: USA shock Wales to stay on course
Last Updated: 03/11/13 5:03pm
Christiaan Roets is upended by Craig Priestly (L) and Bureta Faraimo (R)
Wales' World Cup dream is over after they were beaten 24-16 by the United States in front of a shell-shocked crowd of 8,109 in Wrexham.
The Welsh, the tournament co-hosts who were semi-finalists in 1995 and 2000, were beaten by Italy in their opening group match and on Sunday produced a woeful display to slip out of the competition.
Former Hull KR forward Clint Newton scored two of the Tomahawks' five tries as they edged closer to an unlikely quarter-final with Australia at the Racecourse Ground.
There was no hint of the shock to come when Christiaan Roets gave Wales the lead with a 16th-minute try, but Iestyn Harris' side conceded 24 points before producing a late rally to go down 24-16.
The Tomahawks, thrown together at short notice, have now won five matches in a row, following their Colonial Cup double over Canada and their stunning warm-up victory over France in Toulouse.
Sunday's display, orchestrated by Parramatta stand-off Joseph Paulo, demonstrated that their win over Cook Islands in Bristol was no fluke.
They will secure a place in the last eight if they beat Scotland in the last pool match in Salford next Thursday or if Cook Islands fail to beat Tonga at Leigh on Tuesday.
Wales only had themselves to blame for their defeat. They did, however, take the lead on 16 minutes when hooker Neil Budworth tore away from dummy half to put winger Rhys Williams into space and centre Roets was in support to score the first of two tries on his home ground.
With the classy Paulo pulling the strings, USA even then looked the more organised on attack and they prized open the Welsh defence twice in the second quarter to take the lead.
Newton took a short ball from his skipper to go over for his first try for his country and left winger Matt Petersen collected a cut-out pass to cross at the corner.
Paulo missed both conversion attempts, the first from almost in front of the posts, as the United States led 8-4 at half-time.
Wales looked more energised at the start of the second half, but the Tomahawks withstood all that was thrown at them and, when stand-off Lloyd White managed to get over their line, he was prevented from grounding the ball.
The pivotal moment came on 54 minutes when Wales full-back Rhys Evans fumbled Paulo's high kick in front of his own posts.
Substitute Les Soliai swooped on the ball and, although he was brought down just short of the line, Wales were unable to re-group in time to prevent Paulo going over for a third try from the next play.
Paulo was again off target with the goal-kick, but the visitors made sure of the win with two more tries in a three-minute spell.
Replacement hooker Tuisegasega Samoa took advantage of some atrocious defence to go over from dummy half on the hour and, after Wales skipper Craig Kopczak coughed up possession inside his own half, Newton was put through a gap by scrum-half Craig Priestly for his second try.
Paulo added both conversions to stretch his side's lead to 24-4, but Wales produced a late fightback which proved too little too late.
Right winger Elliot Kear broke free to put Roets away for his second try and substitute Anthony Walker followed up a grubber kick by Ben Evans to score a try on debut.
White added both goals to cut the gap to just eight points, a margin that flattered the home side.