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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Poor Discipline Costs Eagles In Uruguay Loss


Despite holding an 11 point second half lead poor discipline, missed kicks, and bad decision-making haunted the Eagles once again as they fell to Uruguay 29-25. After opening the Americas Rugby Championship with two wins and a draw the Eagles had the opportunity to win the tournament but a shock loss to Brazil last week and a meltdown against Uruguay will now see them finish in the middle of the table. The U.S. will have to regroup ahead of their summer series against Italy, Russia, and an opponent to be determined.

While the result against Uruguay is disappointing, especially due to the fact that the Eagles had multiple chances to win, the team will still gain something out of the match and the tournament. The ARC is all about development. That wasn't always apparent in Argentina and Canada matches. Yes, the team did hand out plenty of new caps in those matches but they still relied on many of their overseas professionals or on players that have been pros overseas. Aside from the Chile match  what the Uruguay and Brazil matches have shown is that the Eagles still need more depth.

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Without question the U.S. has the athletes to compete with anyone. However, what is clear is that the further down the depth chart you go the less intuitive rugby knowledge many of the players have. That knowledge only comes by playing high level matches. That's something that PRO Rugby hopefully changes as well as tournaments like the JWRT. It's still early in the 2019 cycle but at least the U.S. now knows where they stand and they don't have to wait until the summer.

The player of the match for either side had to be scrumhalf Augustin Ormaechea. It was his boot that provided the majority of Uruguay's points, including early when they took a 3-0 lead just minutes in. Penalties continued to be a problem for the Eagles as they surrendered territory. However, they didn't concede any further points.

Eventually the U.S. would gain more possession. Their breakthrough came in the 14th minute when a great heads up play from Todd Clever at the scrum put him off down the pitch. After picking up a good chunk of territory he made the pass to London who then fed Aladdin Schirmer for the try. With the conversion from Bird the U.S. led 7-3.

Each team would trade penalties just a few minutes apart before things settled down for long stretches of back and forth. The Eagles were good at counterattacking but they continued to have some issues in the scrum and they looked disjointed on offense. Despite all that they were able to add a penalty from Bird to extend their lead. Ormaechea got a penalty back to make it 13-9 at halftime.

In the second half the match blew open. Once again showing the propensity to get out and run Joe Taufete'e made an intial break before throwing the one-hand offload to London for the try. London, along with the likes of David Tameilau, showed well not only in this match but throughout the tournament. Both of them likely earned looks when the first team assembles in June. Bird's conversion on the try was good at the Eagles led 20-9.

That advantage would only last two minutes. Using their forwards Uruguay bashed at the U.S. until prop Mario Sagario crashed over. With the conversion it was 20-16. The U.S. had an opportunity to extend their lead but Bird couldn't connect on the kick. Things then got worse for the Eagles as Ben Landry was sent to the bin for pushing down a Uruguayan player who he thought was getting into it with Eric Fry. Ormeachea would hit his fourth penalty and Uruguay were within one with 20 minutes to play.

The U.S. did well to take time off the clock but Uruguay took the 22-20 lead on another penalty. When they were back to their full contingent the U.S. was able to retake the lead. The Uruguayan clearance kick from deep in their own end didn't go far. Clever recovered and spun the ball out quickly to Deion Mikesell who raced to the corner to score a try on debut. However, the crucial conversion from Kruger missed and the Eagles only held a two point advantage at 25-23.

The pivitol moment in the match came with five minutes left, two minutes after Mikesell's try. With Uruguay attacking Ben Landry was shown his second yellow card of the match, this time for a high tackle. Uruguay choose to go for the lineout. They then used their maul to push over for the try and a 29-25 lead after the conversion. The U.S. then couldn't manage the match well and when Lorenzo Thomas was pushed into touch the match was over.

As mentioned, lots of lessons for the Eagles. With a few exceptions like Clever, Lamositele, and Fry this was not an experienced team. If they can learn from matches like then even with the loss the tournament will be a success.

U.S.

Tries: Schirmer, London, Mikesell
Conversions: Bird (2)
Penalties: Bird

Uruguay

Tries: Sagario, ?
Conversions: Ormaechea (2)
Penalties: Ormaechea (5)




5 comments:

  1. The good find to come out of this are Taufete'e, Tameilau, London, and even Landry. He may have picked up cards these last two matches, but he has lots of room to grow. Kruger is not the answer at 9. I hope Bliss is healthy come June, because his one half looked better than anything Kruger or Teo did.

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  2. Not only is the ARC good to find potential long term Eagles it is also to identify players that just don't rate on an international level. Bird for one should be out, Eloff has way more skills and potential. Orth,Schirmer,Stanfill also. Te'o will be a good utility player, they need Bliss at scrumhalf. Kruger needs alot of improvement.

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  3. Yes the Eagles made alot of mistakes but the officiating was pathetic. Uruguay several times tried a quick lineout with a USA player standing near the throw in and the Uruguay player would throw the ball 15 yards back to his teammate, several no wrap tackles not called, forward passes, including a blatant one on their way to the winning try.

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    1. Sour grapes. The winning try came from a lineout with a maul and drive, there was no pass, forward or backwards, and the refereeing was no more pro Urguayan than pro US.

      The US couod have won easily, athletically they were fitter and faster than Uruguay, but, as last week, lack a 1st class goal kicker, and lack tactical nous, and gave away too many stupid penalties. The yellow then red for Landry were simply irresponsible on his part.

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  4. I agree with the officiating. Uruguay also got away with playing offsides at the breakdown quite a lot. There players immediately behind the ref were always offsides. The ARs need to step up in those situations. However, this tournament is also developmental for the refs. So the standard should raise across the board annually. Bird is a good backup at this point. He needs to lose about 15 pounds and do some speed training. Eloff has potential and his start at Fullback over Anderson soaks volumes about Anderson and Eloff. I would argue that this was a success in regards to player development and these tough close losses will help these players develop. I'm also keen to see the US U20 scrumhalf, Louis Mulholland, get some time at the ARC. I've got to think that Madison Hughes will also get match time at #9 post-Rio.

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