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USA Eagles Pull it off in Sac-Town, FT 29-10

The USA Eagles pulled it off in Sacramento in Gary Gold's Test debut as Head Coach of the Men's Eagles. 1-0 (2-0)  It was an interesting week in the lead up, as there was a drastic amount of drama with The Canucks.  Allen Vansen and Tim Powers welcomed correspondence from fans and Union members.  By not qualifying for the Rugby World Cup Americas 2 slot it forced the Canadians to look towards the future building depth for November.  The majority of their professionals having been recalled to their European Clubs left Eagle Fans unsure of whom they would face.  Would the Canucks be inspired, would they fight?

The Eagles, fresh off their first victory ever over an Argentine side, were looking to continue their winning ways and build upon everything that has swirled around them over the last 8 months.  You could see early on that sometimes a week isn't enough as started slowly, much like Argentina XV against Chile didn't have it until the second half.  But as we would see with the Eagles, talent and fitness can take over a match.  Yet, Les Rouges fought for every meter they gained throughout the match showing how proud of a Rugby Nation they are.

For the Eagles, early on it was not nearly as contentious as it had been against Argentina XV.  Canada was hard hitting, but clean in most things, it didn't get chippy.  '8 When Augsperger scored and Will Magie converted the air lifted and the Eagles started to play hard and fight.  They kept pushing, trading possessions.  The offense opened up a bit with multiple offloads as Ryan Matyas scored with a hot knife through the butter that became the Canadian defense at '16. 

The Canadian tempo began to get faster as Phil Mack would go short on his passes into his pods, Les Rouges pushed mostly through the center of the pitch until Pat Parfrey stuck his hand out as he received the offload and try.  Brock Staller would be sure of foot bringing it to 14-7 at '24.  As the match pushed towards the half, the Canadians maintained possession, continuing to threaten.  Yet they would be unable to convert due to the Eagles flying defense.  This is one of the few times I've seen the Eagles where the intent of kicks was clear.  The defense would charge after the ball or make a move on a kick and chase.  This plays into what Coach Gold has stated, he will be aggressive in the kicking game.  As Canada continued to threaten, they earned a penalty kick at '38, Brock Staller would miss.  With some new wind the Eagles would push some, yet couldn't make it work as they closed out the half.

The hits would keep coming early and the Canadians would push the ball into the Eagles half at the beginning of the second period.  They earned a penalty and this time Brock Staller's leg would be sure at '43 in.  This brought the score to USA 14-10 CAN.

Instead of being dejected, the Eagles began to answer with their physicality.  The pods would take shape and they would drive forward.  As the reinforcements arrived Ben Landry came in for Nate Brakely, making his presence felt by stealing possessions and putting his body on the line when he carried.   Taking an offload, The Hammer, Hanco Gemishuys made his presence felt as the knife in Canada's heart this time scoring a try from 15 meters out and through traffic evading multiple tacklers at '53.  Will Magie's sure boot put the Eagles up 21-10 over Canada.  A tactical move would see Gemishuys replaced by Durutalo, Augsperger by Davies, Magie by Hooley.  The way I've looked at this roster since the first roll out by Coach Gold and Co, does this provide you lift or do you need to start those guys on the bench because your starters aren't there?  I'm sometimes critical of this arrangement as our history has shown both a drop off in skills and fitness.  That was not the case with our match day 23.  Every man has been used and at the correct times.

The tempo picked up with the Davies and Hooley pairing.  Dylan Audsley would impress in his first cap and second appearance for the Eagles, but this time on offense.  The vision with ball in hand, choosing when to take contact put the Eagles in excellent position.  The Eagles earned a penalty at '57, yet Hooley would be wide, just barely.  The wind was steady over 20 MPH for the entire match not aiding the surefooted kickers of both Canada and the Eagles.  After a long period of the TMO reviewing scenes Cam Dolan would earn a YC in a ruck for a tip tackle, but would get into a scuffle with Nick Blevins being the target of five strikes while keeping cool.

Often times the Eagles have played poorly a man down, but this was not the case tonight.  The Eagles offense continued pushing the pace earning a penalty at '64, this time Hooley's boot would be true bringing the Eagles lead to 14.  As the Eagles received the ball they maintain their ways, Hooley  employed a grubber kick as it squibbed forward.  The Eagles achieving possession, offloading Durutalo to Hooley, Hooley to Audsely, Audsley to Matyas for the try.   This would cap the game at '74 minutes.  Hooley would not convert.  With some great defense to finish the half the Eagles would win the final scrum, Davies launching the ball to Hooley who would end the game kicking the ball into the stands to leave no doubt. 

The Eagles Return to the Los Angeles area to host Chile at Titans Stadium in Fullerton, CA on 17 February, 2018.  Attendance in Sacramento totaled 1650 spectators.

Canada returns home to host Brazil at Westhills Stadium in Langford, BC on 17 February, 2018. 


Tries: Parfrey

Cons: Staller (1/1)

Pens: Staller (1/2)

Yellow Card: None

United States

Tries: Augspurger, Gemishuys, Matyas (2)

Cons: Magie (3/3),  Hooley (0/1)

Pens: Hooley (1/1)

Yellow Card: Cam Dolan (63)

~Aaron Castro