USA Eagles Outlast the Argentina XV, FT 17-10


In the game of Survivor being strong comes into play very early on. If you can hunt and lift heavy objects you will go far and establish your political credibility amongst the tribe.  Not to say that there was a need for politics in this match, however, the USA Eagles did have to outwit a tough opponent.  As I mentioned in my match preview, I knew ARG XV would be a very tough opponent as we'd tied them twice in as many years in the Americas Rugby Championship.

At the beginning I wasn't sure of what to expect from the Argentine Loose Head when you're facing off against a taller professional whom plays often in the RFU Championship.  Although, size doesn't always equal talent, and when you have towering Locks behind you in the engine room a man can scrum with the best of them: Francisco Ferronato scrummed with the best of what we had yesterday proving him a mauler.

Early on the Eagles had multiple infringements that would dictate the tempo. When play started opening up the Argentinians were smothering in their defense and causing errors.  Contesting almost every Eagles Ruck and drawing in more forwards to limit the overloads the Eagles could generate would stop any wide open game plan.  The physical play at times was cynical with the Juan Cappiello yellow following a late tackle on Marcel Brache which was determined to be a possible MCL injury.  This saw the debut of Dylan Audsley, he is an extremely high regarded center from St Mary's College.  The story out there was he almost moved on from Rugby focusing on other professional pursuits, however, as an American I'm extremely happy made his debut in the Eagles Shirt.  He played extremely well filling in for a Super Rugby Level player which says a lot about the young talent he is and the talent that will be in Major League Rugby.  '8 Will Magie missed the first penalty kick here. Though, I oft wonder, if you're going to give a yellow, shouldn't the kicking team get to choose where to put the ball?  As the play continued to be contentious in the first minutes the ARG XV would earn a penalty at '10 with Juan Cruz Gonzalez also missing wide.

As contentious play continued the Eagles would earn another kick and Will Magie's boot would be sure pushing the Eagles to a 3-0 lead.  With the combative play continuing and discipline lapses across both sides, Titi Lamositele was shown the yellow with Juan Cruz Gonzalez connecting on the penalty kick bringing the ARG XV even with the Eagles at 3-3.  As the play continued to deteriorate, Cam Dolan was shown a Yellow card towards the end of the half which would have the Eagles put Blaine Scully in Blind Side flanker in the scrum.  The ARG XV would achieve the overload and score a converted try by Sergio Montagner to close the half.  Really not knowing the failure recovery systems in place the South Stand seemed distraught for their Eagles.

Early into the second half, still a man down, the Eagles earned a penalty.  '42 Will Magie's boot would be sure bringing the United States within four of ARG XV.  The tempo still seemed to be up and down, but the Eagles kept attacking in the center of the pitch bludgeoning ARG XV with the size advantage of the forward pack.  The tempo shifted at '55 with the insertion of Shaun Davies at Scrum-Half.  Fresh off the bench he commanded fast at the ruck without having had the same 55 minutes of punishment that Nate Augspurger had suffered.  For the moment the Eagles were displaying Attacking Rugby as they found the gap with a mental lapse in the smothering Argentine defense.  An off-load to the big open-side flanker in Lamborn, he scored a hard fought try in almost  an exactly equa-distant spot from the posts and the touchline on the western side of the south try-zone.  Angle didn't hold true with Magie's boot as the Try went unconverted.

You saw the confidence displayed in the bench as new Eagles Coach Gary Gold began subbing on more players in the last quarter of the match.  Will Hooley would come on for Will Magie '68 minute mark.  As they continued to attack in the center and gain meters against a stout defense Will Hooley earned his debut by continuing to build upon the one point lead the Eagles had.  Two minutes into his first senior match the young fly-half kicked for sticks after ARG XV committed a penalty.  Going up 14-10, it was not over and ARG XV showed they wanted it just as much.  With 3 minutes left on the clock ARG XV committed another penalty for the Eagles to earn a kick at the sticks and go up 17-0, Hooley's boot was sure.

The only way forward for Argentina was to score a converted try.  Into extra time the whole second unit for the front row of the Eagles was in.  At the Northeast corner there would be tough scrum that held just long enough for The Hammer to release and track down ARG XV No. 8 Rodrigo Bruni, this forced the Argentine to knock-on the ball as the tackle was completed.  In front of a home crowd of 6500, Hanco Gemishuys with an 80-minute effort sealed the opening victory of the Americas Rugby Championship for the Eagles.

The Eagles Host Canada next week at Papa Murphy's Park in Sacramento, 5PM PST 10 February, 2017.  Canada, following their away loss to Uruguay, will play in the Repechage Tournament in November in an attempt to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.  





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As a venue and event I am highly impressed with what AEG Rugby did on match day.  The experience was great for myself.  I spoke with Calder Cahill, the new USA Rugby Director of Communications, he definitely gets it!  We look forward to working him in the future.  The press kits and rosters were set up for the experienced Rugby Journalist or the novice local beat reporter.  I also screamed with exuberance when Chris Assmuss signaled the knock-on by Argentina to end the match.  There just happened to be two Argentine media members in front of me, they were wearing Argentina kit, so I'm sure they would have done the same if it had gone the other way.