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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Disinterested Eagles Fall To Brazil On Late Kick


All the signs were there that the Eagles would beat Brazil handily as they met for the first time. The U.S. are ranked 16th in the World Rugby rankings while Brazil clocked in at 42nd. Additionally, Brazil hadn't won an ARC match and the Eagles were aiming for a championship if they could take away the maximum points. Instead, the U.S. played possibly their worst match of all-time, showing disinterest, making simple errors, and eventually losing 24-23 on a last second penalty. Gone are the chances of winning the ARC and the U.S. will now spend the next week wondering what went wrong. The loss was so bad that in some sense the positive gains made against Argentina, Canada, and Chile have to be tempered.

The Eagles made a number of changes entering the match and straight from the start those changes had a negative impact on the team. Hardly any of the players on the side were connected with passes bouncing off each others faces and the scrum getting pushed back by an entirely amateur Brazilian side. When the U.S. did have possession they continually wasted it with silly penalties and handling errors. Brazil can be a tough place to play and the conditions were hot and humid but that in no way excuses what was a poor effort straight from the opening whistle.

Take the jump to read more.
The warning signs were there early for the Eagles. Brazil were going to take advantage of every penalty to put points on the board and that's exactly what they did early as two penalties from Moises Duque put Brazil up 6-0 with only six minutes gone. Although the U.S. had possession they continually kicked away and eventually that possession would pay off for Brazil. In the 13th minute Brazil caught the U.S. napping when the U.S. kicked deep and quickly worked the ball to the side of the pitch. A few well done passes later and fullback Daniel Sancery was in for the first try of the match and a 13-0 lead for Brazil.

Again, the scrum and handling continually bit the Eagles. Any opportunity they had was stuffed out. Of the starters, in particular the forwards, only David Tameilau showed signs of life. That lack of energy fed Brazil and when scrumhalf Lucas Duque snuck the ball out of a scrum the U.S. were losing he was in for the second try of the night. The conversion missed but Brazil led 18-0. 

In the 30th minute the U.S. were finally able to get on the board as James Bird made a penalty. In the lead up to the penalty the U.S. had more possession and looked slightly better. They looked more improved when Eric Fry came on in the 34th minute. As they kept pushing the U.S. were finally rewarded with their first try. Reverted back to simple rugby the U.S. used power off the line out through Andrew Suniula and then finally Joe Taufete'e for the try. At halftime the Eagles trailed 18-8.

Needing to rebound in the second half the U.S. were the first to score. Kingsley McGowan did well to claim his chip ahead. The ball then went to Bird and Kruger who both made runs and offloads before Kruger's pass found Aladdin Schirmer. The Central Washington grad did well to collect the ball and go in for the score. With six minutes gone in the second half the U.S. were back in it at 18-13. 

However, as the story of the match would repeat itself Brazil were able to claw points back straightaway as the U.S. committed a needless penalty. Still, the second half was much better for the Eagles and substitutes like Chad London and Mike Te'o paid off dividends. It took about another ten minutes but a break from Te'o to the supporting Kruger gave the U.S. their third try of the match and to get back within one at 21-20. 

That try seemed to give the U.S. some momentum and they had several opportunities, including a Tim Stanfill shout for a try. But time and time again Brazil did just enough to earn the turnover and the U.S. did just enough to cough up their opportunities. Despite all that, a penalty from Kruger gave the U.S. a 23-21 lead with about eight minutes left. 

Arguably the U.S. should have gone for the try in that instance. Not only did they have momentum and it would have put more points between them and Brazil but it would have also given them a bonus point, something they needed if they wanted to win the ARC. That conservative play would be born out again late in the match. JP Eloff attempted a very long penalty only to have it miss and the U.S. tried several minutes of simply using their forwards to wind out the clock. Instead of ending the match it allowed Brazil one last line out. From the line out they earned a penalty on the maul setting up Duque for the long, match-winning penalty as time expired. 

Disappointing doesn't begin to describe the match from the Eagles point of view. However, if there is a silver lining from the match it's that the ARC was designed to give domestic U.S. players more of an opportunity at the international level. Those players certainly learned today that they can't take any opponent lightly. Hopefully that lesson sinks in as they play Uruguay next week. 

U.S.

Tries: Taufete'e, Schirmer, Kruger
Conversion: Bird
Penalties: Bird, Kruger

Brazil

Tries: Sancery, L. Duque
Conversions: M. Duque
Penalties: M. Duque (4)

6 comments:

  1. Sounds like I picked a good game to miss . . . it's going to be hard to watch the replay.

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  2. That was the most pathetic performance by an Eagle team that I have ever seen. Embarrassing beyond belief but this is what happens when you hand out caps to players like candy on Halloween.

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    1. Couldn't agree more…embarrassing and pathetic. Probably the sloppiest rugby I've ever seen, at any level.

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  3. The only thing this match showed is that several of the players will never put on the Eagle uniform again. Embrarassing.

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  4. Why don't you find out how many of the players were worrying about their PRO contracts. Instead of getting that all done in November/ December, it has been left until now. They have until Feb 29 to sign and more than one interested observer told me that it has been a huge distraction.

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  5. To me, the players did not seem to want to be there. No spark or drive in any but a few. Now I am not one to say stupid and insulting things like "Our WHSAA team could have beat Brazil" like I saw on a couple chat boards after the game. Brazil are better than most people think. That having been said, if there was actual want and desire on behalf of the Eagles players as a team, this wouldn't have happened.

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