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USA Eagles Soar over Russia, FT 62-13

Photo Credit: Al Miligan/KLC Photography

When it comes to this match you have to examine it in it's entirety frame by frame as it had some highs and lows.   

Early on the Eagles ended up on the back foot due to poor ball handling and defense that played well into the physical hands of the Bears. Mikhael Babaev put one into the try zone after the third minute mark.  Fly-half Yuri Kushnarev would make the conversion.  It did take some time for the Eagles to settle down, but they answered the Russians when the Hooker, "Mighty" Joe Taufete'e rumbled across the line for his first score of the half. AJ MacGinty would miss his first conversion with the Eagles now down only by two.

The Russians received a chance to extend their lead as Eagles Lock Samu Manoa was penalized for a high tackle.  Yuri Kushnarev split the posts extending the Russian lead to five points. The Eagles would exchange the ball with the Russians for some time until pushing the ball down inside the 22. After Eric Fry was tackled near the five meter line, John Quill took the pass out of the ruck scoring a try just to the right of the posts. This set up an easy conversion for AJ MacGinty.

Having adjusted to the pace and physicality of the Bears, the Eagles would go over the try line again just minutes later as Paul Lasike gutted the Russia defense.  MacGinty's foot was sure again putting the Eagles in the lead at 19-10.  The Russians would answer following an infringement by the Eagles, Kushnarev would split the posts following the go-ahead from Captain Vasili Artemiev.  Yet the Eagles responded in kind after a penalty by the Bears, AJ MacGinty's sure foot brought the score to 22-13 Eagles.

At the restart, Kushnarev put the ball high and with three Eagles in vicinity there was a collision between Samu Manoa and a Russian player that would come under review.  At the same time, Shaun Davies jumped for the high ball, descending with it he sprinted through the Russian lines passing the ball off to Taufete'e who would score his second try of the match.  MacGinty would make the conversion putting the Eagles up 29-13.  The final score of the first half came when Marcel Brache cut up the Russian line like melting butter putting the Eagles up 34-13.

The Second half started with tremendous fanfare as Marcel Brache would snag AJ MacGinty's chip kick after Mikhail Babaev fell over backwards in his attend to grab the ball.  MacGinty would convert the try pushing the US up 41-13 early into the second half.  As the sun and thin air started to wear on both sides the Eagles went into a lull for a significant chunk of the third quarter until Nate Augspurger scored a try after Dylan Audsley plunged through the Russian defensive line.

James Hilterbrand would come off the pitch for an HIA.  Joe Taufete'e answered the call and returned after previously coming off the pitch. Minutes later, he had to come off, this time with a suspected shoulder injury.  Hanco Germishuys, who'd been a wrecking ball from the openside throughout the match, answered the call moving to hooker, a position he hasn't played at the Test level in over a year.  Eric Fry would also find himself recalled as Olive Kilifi came off with a closed right eye.

The final two scores would come at the hands of No 8. Cam Dolan and the captain Blaine Scully to seal the match late.

Coach Gold remarked after that match that he was pleased with the victory, but not with the overall performance as they did not reach a few of their Key Performance Indicators, such as being inside Russia's 22 meter line 15 times.  He said he felt the scrummaging improved some, but was level on the performance.  Paul Mullen debuted at Tight Head Prop for the Eagles proving what many have known all along about the former High School All American and Munster U20 player, a Test level prop.  Earning Eagle Number 525, he is the first player to be capped during the inaugural MLR season.

Try: Taufete’e (2), Quill, Lasike, Brache (2), Augspurger, Dolan, Scully
Conversion: MacGinty (4), Magie (3)
Try: Babaev
Conversion: Kushnarev
Penalty: Kushnarev (2)

~Aaron Castro