Words: Ian Golden at Myrtle Beach Sports Center. Pic: Andrew Corbett, Relyks Media
Wales, despite an early shock from their hosts, cruised to a 78-24 win over USA in the first-ever game of Wheelchair Rugby League to be played in the Americas.
USA scored from their first attack. Chayse Wolf dived under the sticks but Will Johnstone couldn’t land the conversion.
Wales then played a perfect 20 minutes. They soon scored their opener as Scott Trigg-Turner went in under the posts with Andrew Higgins’ goal giving Wales the lead.
They increased the advantage straight away. Higgins played a great off-load to Gary Preece who made no mistake. Higgins converted again.
Preece soon got the next try with Higgins again kicking well before setting up the next try for Trigg-Turner for his 50th try for Wales, only the second player to achieve this for any Wales international side (Stuart Williams of Wales Wheelchair being the first). Higgins again converted.
Wales were now starting to enjoy themselves. A sublime pass from Preece gave Trigg-Turner his hat-trick just after the 20-minute mark.
But it was the home side who were next to score. After kicking from a set, Jesse Lind picked up a bounce missed by the Welsh, setting up Wolf for his second. Micah Stewart’s goal attempt hit the bar.
Wales soon addressed the balance. Andrew Higgins twisted his way through to ground and easily converted.
It took until the 35th minute before any Welsh player wanted to come off, giving Phillip Davies his first cap in five years, and by that time, Wales were 36-8 up.
USA, first to score in the half, were also the last, Mack Johnson chased a kick and scored under the sticks. Stewart converted to make the score 36-14 at the break.
The home side again started the half well and Trigg-Turner, already with a hat-trick of tries, was forced to make the tag of the game, stopping Johnson as he was about to touch down for his second.
But it was Wales who quickly increased their lead with two Jodie Boyd-Ward tries, Higgins converting the second.
USA again struck back, despite two great tackles, from Trigg-Turner and Preece, eventually Andy Kingsley scored under the posts and Johnstone converted.
But Wales scored again as soon as they got the ball back, Higgins over for his second try and kicking his eighth goal.
Just after the Trigg-Turner chased and caught the ball for Wales’ 10th try of the evening and his fourth of the game. Higgins converted, then added a penalty as Trigg-Turner was fouled in the action of scoring.
Higgins strolled in for his third try of the evening, also giving him his 50th Wales try, converting himself.
USA weren’t finished yet. Mack Johnson got his second, diving in the corner, but Wales finished the stronger. Preece dived in for his hat-trick with Trigg-Turner converting, then Harry Jones, winning his Wheelchair RL world-record-extending 44th cap, scored in the corner and converted himself.