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As Good as Gold, USA is 8-0, FT 42-17 over Canada

Photo Credit: USA Rugby

The United States Eagles move to 8-0 under coach Gary Gold, matching the current win streak held by the All Blacks.

The day again started unpromising, with the Eagles struggling to maintain possession against a side that has been under pressure since February to produce winning rugby.  The Eagles did not maintain possession well. Although the game plan was to pressure the Canadians with the kicking game, the Eagles were not sprinting down the field. The Canadians played some good go forward ball, and after the Eagles committed an infringement, Lucas Rumball elected for his fly-half to take the points and the lead 3-0.

The Eagles continued to struggle as they pushed the ball wide, though they brought it back into the mid-field using their superior forward play and then began to play solid go-forward ball with their physical centers in Paul Lasike and Marcell Brache.  The games of AJ MacGinty over the past few years have shown his tremendous growth; he's become a once in a generation player. Pat Clifton noted in his column for Rugby Today that we got lucky he came to the US and went through the programs at NYAC and Life University, developing late in life compared to other Irish fly-halves.  MacGinty put the ball to his foot for a low end 10-meter high ball, collecting it, striking through the Canadian defense, and offloading to No 8. Cam Dolan for the try. The Eagles would not surrender the lead after they went up 5-3.

On the next scoring possession for the Eagles the Canadians committed an infringement giving MacGinty his first penalty to push the American’s lead to five.  Receiving the ball back the Eagles continued to play in the middle of the pitch, running through their 1-3-3-1 attack skippered by scrum-half Shaun Davies and more strike running from Lasike and then would spill the ball forward.  The defense proved the decider early for the Eagles as they continued to win possession out of the ruck. As the Eagles drove down the field, MacGinty threw a high pass to his left that hit winger Nate Augspurger on the edge burning in for a try.

The Canadians had a chance by pushing the Eagles to edge right before the half and by playing strong off their pack.  As they ran through multiple phases near the try-line, the Eagles defense surged holding the Canadians to six inches. The clock ticked into extra time as Canadian prop Djustice Sears Duru surged forward on a "pick and go" only to knock it on inches away from scoring.

The Eagles came out on fire into the second half striking fast.  A kick to touch, winning their line, forming maul, and gaining massive amounts of ground.  The ball would be fed to Augspurger and then offloaded to Dolan for his second try of the match.

The Canadians would respond shortly, the US giving the ball away on a penalty, and scrum-half Phil Mack would run his side through their offense.  Getting to the 5-Meter line, after multiple "pick and goes," lock Evan Olmstead ultimately got over the line bringing the Canadians within ten following Shane O'leary's conversion.

The Eagles forced a turnover shortly after the restart, and the Canadians were penalized for hands in the ruck as Davies attempted to grab the ball and distribute following a tackle.  Playing advantage, MacGinty had another shot on goal and pushed the US lead to thirteen, Eagles up 23-10.

The last ten minutes of the match unraveled for the tough Canadians as the Eagles went on a scoring fest.  Vili Toluta'u's debut at flanker put him over the line following a pick and go from the ruck but was held up.  With penalty advantage the ball returned with a scrum to US. Winning the scrum and keeping the ball near the line, the US forwards continued to run through their phases.  Seeing the gap to his right, Dolan took the ball and touched it over the line as he leant over the ruck completing a hat trick.

Winning the line out, the US pushed the ball wide to captain Blaine Scully burning in for the try. This time MacGinty converted, extending the lead 35-10.  Canada would find some pride in the late minutes getting deep into US territory, Phil Mack pulling the ball out of ruck passing to O'Leary. O'Leary handed off to wing Jeff Hassler who sliced through the Eagles defense from 10 meters out for the try.  O'leary converted his last opportunity bringing Canada within eighteen points at 17-35.

Not over for the Eagles, they'd turn the ball over on the restart to gain possession.  The Eagles went wide out of the ruck, Will Magie running with the ball out wide, offloading to the young Ruben De Haas for his first try of his Eagles career.  MacGinty capped the Eagles scoring in extra time with the final conversion achieving a 42-17 victory over Canada to retain the CANAM Trophy.

The Eagles closed the June international tour with three victories, extending their win streak to 8-0.

~Aaron Castro