Maori All Blacks thrash USA

Akira Ioane ties the USA Eagles in knots at Soldier Field in Chicago. Photo: Getty Images
Akira Ioane ties the USA Eagles in knots at Soldier Field in Chicago. Photo: Getty Images
An at times entertaining but predictable victory for the New Zealand Maori over the USA in Chicago today has not come without its negatives, with three Maori players sinbinned.

Hooker Ash Dixon, lock Pari Pari Parkinson and replacement hooker Robbie Abel were all sent from the Soldier Field pitch today during the 59-22 win, with skipper Dixon and Parkinson off together at the end of the second half.

Dixon saw yellow for pulling down an attacking maul, with Abel binned for not releasing a tackled attacker, but Parkinson's action was far more serious, an ugly body slam of a tackle on Shaun Davies which caused the halfback to leave the field for a head injury assessment from which he didn't return.

There were strong words too directed by the referee to prop Chris Eves because of the way the official was being spoken to, so there will be a spotlight on the visitors' discipline after this match, the third of a triple-header after the Black Ferns thrashed their USA counterparts and Ireland did likewise to Italy.

The yellow card for Parkinson blighted an otherwise excellent performance, with his second-row teammate Isaia Walker-Leawere also impressing. Walker-Leawere, a 21-year-old Hurricanes and Wellington player in his first game for the Maori, scored two tries in five minutes; the first, 18 seconds after halftime, via a spectacular 50m run.

Highlanders co-captain Ash Dixon leads the haka in the lead up to the Maori All Blacks win over...
Highlanders co-captain Ash Dixon leads the haka in the lead up to the Maori All Blacks win over the USA in Chicago. Photo: Getty Images
If the All Blacks have an area they would like to strengthen it is lock so the performance by the pair was both timely and encouraging.

The Maori had won their previous four matches against the USA and there was little chance of an upset today by an understrength home side, who rallied after the break but were swamped by the weight of possession and firepower from the opposition.

Left wing Regan Ware was lively early on, with first-five Otere Black directing play well and Rob Thompson a force in the midfield. Right wing Jonah Lowe's break after the re-start led to Walker-Leawere's superb try.

Up front, Ben May put in a brilliant shift defensively in front of the standout second-rowers, with flanker Mitch Karpik busy. No8 Akira Ioane continued his excellent form for Auckland and first-five Josh Ioane, the 23-year-old Highlander, impressed with his composure and attacking instincts when replacing Black.

The USA hung in there but were too often guilty of making naïve decisions on attack which left them under near constant pressure.

NZ Maori 59 (Isaia Walker-Leawere 2, Regan Ware, Mitchell Karpik, Ash Dixon, Ben May, Rob Thompson, Jonah Lowe, Shaun Stevenson tries; Otere Black 5 cons, Josh Ioane 2 cons)

USA 22 (Ryan Matyas, Tim Maupin, Cam Dolan tries; Will Hooley pen, 2 cons)
Halftime: 26-8

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