Monday, June 20, 2016

U.S. vs. Italy: Eagles Player Grades

Photo: Dave Stephenson

Our player grades for the Eagles in their match against Italy are out. The grades were a little difficult to assign. On the one hand the team suffered a loss in a match they could have one. On the other hand they performed very well against a Tier I nation. In the end we felt their were more positives than negatives.

Titi Lamositele, 75 minutes (7): Still so young but a leader on the Eagles. We thought Lamositele held his own in the scrum and did a lot of things well in the rest of the match. When you compare him as a player to the one he was a year ago you can see a lot of growth. The future is very, very bright.

James Hilterbrand, 53 minutes (5.5): Hilterbrand had some struggled in the line out which was disappointing to see but he was decent in the scrum and in open field he helped make things happen. There is still work to be done but he's getting there.

Chris Baumann, 68 minutes (5): Going up against the Italian props was always going to be a challenge for Baumann. He was able to hold his own early but as the match went along his counterpart began to twist the screws. As always he was good in the open field but giving up penalties in the scrum is absolutely killer.

Take the jump to read more.

Nate Brakeley, 80 minutes (6.5): To give Brakeley credit, he was the only non full-time rugby player on the pitch on Saturday. We thought he did well. He had some wins in the lineout and he was very active on defense. He also had several nice runs and showed good hands.

Greg Peterson, 21 minutes (7): Peter was active and good in the lineout before his early injury exit. The U.S. will hope that he can go again next week.

Andrew Durutalo, 80 minutes (7): Outstanding once again. We got spoiled watching him dominate the breakdown in 7s and while he isn't able to create as many turnovers as he can in 7s he is still disruptive. Overall the team wanted to improve their quickness to the breakdown but we thought Durutalo was good in that department.

Todd Clever, 80 minutes (6.5): Another decent outing for Clever who tied Mike MacDonald for the most capped Eagle of all-time. We though he also managed the game well and made the correct decisions of when to go for points, etc. He also did well with the referee. That said, he wasn't as active or could put his stamp on the game as much as he normally would.

Cam Dolan, 80 minutes (6.5 ): After Peterson went down Dolan moved into the locks where he did decently. The U.S. did lose some lineout and he was shown a yellow card (controversially as Italy held the player in the air for a long time) but was overall very good. We thought he was one of the better players on the day.

Nate Augspurger, 80 minutes (7): Was it a perfect game from Augspurger, no, but it was pretty good. There were some kicks he would like to have back and his passing could have been a little quicker but his defense was arguably the best on the team. His workrate is phenomenal (i.e. his late charge down). It would not shock us to see him as the first choice going forward.

AJ MacGinty, 80 minutes (7.5): Another fantastic performance from MacGinty. His kicking was perfect and his defense spectacular once again. Where he thought he really shined was on offense where he got the Eagles out running and he was at the heart of most of the positive things the Eagles did.

Blaine Scully, 80 minutes (7): Scully was another player that had a strong match. He didn't see a lot of the ball but when he did he was effective. He also did very well in his kicking battle.

Shalom Suniula, (6.5): Suniula was playing a new position on Saturday and his responsibility was to be more of a playmaker. There were will be some adjustment moving forward but it's worth continuing. He also did well defensively.

Thretton Palamo, 80 minutes (5.5): Until he decides to hang up his boots Palamo will always be able to pick up a few meters after the gainline. That was valuable against Italy but it probably wasn't done enough.

Taku Ngwenya, 5 minutes (NA): No grade for Ngwenya after he was literally knocked out early. Here's hoping he gets better quickly.

Will Holder, 80 minutes (6.5): We thought Holder had a nice game on his first match for the Eagles in about four years. His kicking was as good as advertised and defensively he put in some big hits. We also noted during the match that when the Eagles were pressing hard Holder was all over the pitch making things happen.


Mikey Te'o, 75 minutes (6.5): We're going to talk about Tony Lamborn's try in just a second but if you go back and look at the try it only happens because Te'o has quick hands to send the final pass out. Te'o had to come on for Ngwenya early but he did well. It wouldn't be a shock to see him start next week.

Tony Lamborn, 59 minutes (7): Coming on in the middle of the first half is never an easy job and it took a few minutes for Lamborn to make his presence felt but once he was comfortable he had a big impact on the match. His work at the breakdown created several turnovers and he was in the right spot to score his try. He can be a big part of the Eagles going forward.

Joe Taufete'e, 27 minutes (6): We thought Taufete'e came on and made a very good impact in the match. There were one of two line out throws he'd probably like to have back but he carried the ball well.

Ben Tarr, 12 minutes (6): Tarr had some of the same troubles as Baumann and didn't have a lot of time to make an impact. That said, he did well for a young player and didn't look out of place at the international level.

Angus MacLellan, 5 minutes (NA): Not enough time for MacLellan to get a grade.


  1. The Rugby Channel, 67 minutes (0): The Rugby Channel was expected to go the whole 80 minutes but fitness levels weren't up to par as noted early and often with buffering issues. Completely winded the last 3 minutes. Doesn't appear up to international standard.

  2. CBS Sports Network (9)
    OK, it was on tape delay, and lasted longer than the allotted two hours, but it was clear and consistent.
    Nice to see CBS sports entering the field for rugby broadcasting, as NBC has done for the Aviva Premiership next season.