USA ambushed by the Cougars
By STEVE SPINKS
THEY'LL be talking about this one for years out Casino way.
The night the Casino Cougars knocked over the United States of America 22-20 in a rugby league match at Queen Elizabeth Park.
Guided by their diminutive halves Wes Torrens and Matt Roberts, the Cougars had too much football savvy for a noticeably tiring Emerging Tomahawks outfit.
About 2000 supporters were treated to a close match and although it wasn't especially pretty to watch, the right team won.
New Cougars coach Cavill Heugh was a happy man after the game. After all he had lifted the Group One wooden-spooners from 2004 to their first victory in more than a year.
For Tomahawks coach David Niu, it was an improvement from the two 50-point drubbings his side had been subjected to last week.
"It wasn't too bad," Niu said. "We had a couple of blokes who couldn't make it tonight.
"But the young guys held in there well.
"It's a great way for these guys to learn about rugby league."
In fact Niu, who is a former first grade halfback with St George and now the chief executive of the American National Rugby League, had to fill in at half because the Tomahawks only had three reserves for their third match in seven days.
The Cougars were in much better shape with 10 men on the bench.
The scores were level at nil-all after the first quarter, but Casino blew the scoreline out to 16-0 by half-time after tries to Matt Roberts, Jai Martin and Jamie Bray.
Early in the third quarter US prop Ashley Leafranchi, an Australian who qualifies to play for the Tomahawks because his mother is American, crashed over to get the visitors on the board and then centre Marty O'Connell crossed to cut the Cougars' lead to 16-10.
Casino replied early in the fourth quarter with a slashing converted try to winger Todd Walker, but the Americans would not give up and they scored through winger Brad Conway.
At 22-14 and with only seconds remaining the Cougars had the game wrapped up when the Tomahawks man-of-the-match, Roger Tuliohone, was rewarded for his efforts with a converted try on the bell.
Casino Cougars 22 (M Roberts, J Bray, T Walker, J Martin tries; G Roberts 2, M Roberts goals) d USA Emerging Tomahawks 20 (R Tuliohone, M O'Connell, B Conway, A Leafranchi tries; R Tuliohone 2 goals).
Under-16 curtain-raiser: Tweed Seagulls 32 d Casino 6.