Jamaica made history by qualifying for its first major tournament as it beat the United States for the first time to reach the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
The Reggae Warriors became the 11th nation to clinch their place in the 16-team World Cup in England, thanks to a 16-10 victory in the final of the Americas Championship in Jacksonville.
Jamaica, which beat Canada in their opening game, led 16-10 at half-time after both sides crossed for two tries.
The difference was the four goals kicked by Jy-Mel Coleman, compared to just one from Hull winger Bureta Faraimo.
World History! We are goin' to the Rugby League World Cup Reggae Warriors win 16 – 10 against the USA!Thanks for all…
Coleman, the London Skolars halfback, missed a chance to put two scores between the teams and Jamaica was forced into some desperate defence in a scoreless second half to hang on to their lead.
Leeds fullback Ashton Golding was named man of the match after defying a neck injury to play a key role in Jamaica’s famous victory.
Rugbyleaguejamaica.com reports the Reggae Warriors’ heroic defence – particularly in a scoreless second half – helped them become the inaugural Caribbean nation to make a World Cup, sparking wild celebrations as the final whistle went at the Hodges Stadium, University of North Florida, Jacksonville.
“We handled them better than they did us,” euphoric Jamaica head coach Romeo Monteith said.
“We capitalised on their poor discipline. We had a plan and it worked. At half-time we said we needed to maintain our focus. We saw off what they threw at us and held our nerve.”
“This is massive for the Jamaican nation. To reach a World Cup is something extra special. It feels like there is one love.”
USA head coach Sean Rutgerson was distraught.
“Our discipline was awful and let us down badly,” Rutgerson said.
“We got back in the game by half-time when we stopped giving penalties away. They ran down the clock at scrums and dropouts and made it difficult to build any pressure.
“We’ve made it very hard for ourselves now.”
The USA, which qualified for the 2000 and 2017 World Cups, will have a second chance to book their place for 2021 via a repechage competition in 2019.