Monday, June 27, 2016

U.S. vs. Russia: Eagles Player Grades

Our grades are in for the Eagles for their match against Russia. Even though the Eagles blanked their opponents and came away with a win there was still a lot to be desired in how they played. They left some chances hanging and their passing wasn't great. As a result the players get good marks but not as good as last week.

Titi Lamositele, 60 minutes (6): It wasn't the best game for Lamositele. A long season where he's played a lot of rugby seemed to catch up with him and by the time he was taken out he was gassed. That said, he was the best prop on the day and when he isn't fatigued he's always good in the open field.

James Hilterbrand, 50 minutes (5.5): A much better day from Hilterbrand in his lineout throws. However, it's going to be difficult to give him a very high grade considering that he should have had a try but knocked it on!

Chris Baumann, 67 minutes (5.5): A better game from Baumann but he still wasn't as good n the scrum as he should have been. We're going to give him a better grade this time around because we thought he was much more active in the open field. He made some great tackles.

Take the jump to read more.

James King, 72 minutes (6.5): In comparison to his debut in the ARC this performance was much better from King. That's what happens when you have time together with the team. His lineout work was excellent and he makes smart rugby plays. We thought it was a performance that is going to push him into starting contention in the future.

Nate Brakeley, 80 minutes (6.5): Another week and another great performance from Brakeley. For being one of only two non-full-time professionals on the roster his fitness was excellent. He seemed more comfortable this week and it translated into doing some of the small things well.

Tony Lamborn, 60 minutes (6): For the 60 minutes he was able to go Lamborn was a beast. His work at the breakdown was solid and he made crucial tackles. He also brings an added spark on the offensive end that is a different wrinkle from what the Eagles have had. That said, he hasn't been playing full-time minutes recently and he couldn't go the full match.

Todd Clever, 80 minutes(6): A big congratulations to Clever on becoming the Eagles all-time cap leader. It says a lot about him and his longevity that he was able to grab the record from Mike MacDonald. During this match Clever made several nice plays, especially defensively.

Cam Dolan, 80 minutes (6.5): We thought that Dolan was slightly more active this match than against Italy. His charge down nearly led to a try and his lineout work was good.

Nate Augspurger, 67 minutes (6): Defensively you'd be hard to find a player that works harder than Augspurger. His work rate is infectious and it makes his teammates better. However, he was too slow to play the ball at times and his kicking wasn't on the mark. It was a setback from the match against Italy in which he looked like he could be the first choice in the #9 shirt. Now that is more of an open question.

AJ MacGinty, 80 minutes (7): What more can you say about MacGinty that hasn't already been said. He won this game for the Eagles with a great boot once again. He said after the match that it wasn't his best performance and he did miss a few kicks from hand but all the good things the U.S. did came from him.

Blaine Scully, 80 minutes (6): Like many of the backs it was a somewhat quiet game for Scully in his hometown (he's never lost in Sacramento!) but it was a good game. We thought he did a great job managing the team as captain.

Shalom Suniula, 80 minutes (7): Defensively few players had a better match that Suniula. He was everywhere and time and time again was able to stop the Russian attack. It's that type of work that is going to see him continue to get selected. Offensively because of slow ball he probably wasn't able to be as much of a playmaker as he would like.

Thretton Palamo, 50 minutes (4.5): Of all the starters Palamo probably had the game he'd most like to forget. On several occasions his passing let him down big time. He also wasn't as aggressive as you would like on both offense and defense. Several times he had an opportunity to take a Russian on but stayed back for whatever reason.

Mikey Te'o, (6.5): We liked the match Te'o had on Saturday. He was active and he provided a big spark on offense. If there is a criticism it's that he wasn't as aggressive as wanted during kick chases. He had a couple of opportunities to go for the ball but pull out.

Will Holder, 40 minutes (6): A fairly quiet 40 minutes for Holder. He had some chances, including a nice kick that he nearly picked up for a try, but it came to an early end as a result of the injury. Let's hope it doesn't keep him out of 7s much.


Luke Hume, 40 minutes (6): Hume came in and was active in the second half. He still sometimes has a tendency to go it alone and get himself in trouble on a few occasions. It was good to see him back in a U.S. shirt but he's going to have competition to keep it.

Chad London, 30 minutes (6): As a substitute London had a nice game. A lot of his work went unnoticed but as the match moved along and players became fatigued he was one of the few that was doing the small things that lead to success. In one instance the whole coaching staff praised him for putting pressure on a kicker.

Joe Taufete'e, 30 minutes (6): Another player that had a bit of a silent match but it was a good one all the same. Taufete'e is slowing getting back to full fitness and he made some big tackles on Saturday. Still needs to find another gear though.

Angus MacLellan, 20 minutes (6): The evolution of Angus MacLellan continues. He came in and did well in the scrum and was active once again.

Langilangi Haupeakui, 20 minutes (8): A year ago Langilangi was playing for the EPA Razorbacks. Then he became a full-time professional and in the space of a week he went from a camp training invite, to being on the bench, to making an appearance, to making an impact for the Eagles. He was outstanding in his 20 minutes. He brought energy that lifted his teammates and he played with a type of passion that is awesome to see.

Ben Tarr, 13 minutes (5.5): Not a lot of time for Tarr to make an impact, especially as the game slowed down. He's got some good elements to him but international scrumming is something he needs to improve upon.

Steve Tomasin, 13 minutes (5.5): Like Tarr, not a lot of time for Tomasin. He made some good tackles and he got the ball out quickly which is what you like to see.

Harry Higgins, 8 minutes (6): Higgins came in and was active on his debut. He's physically got the tools to succeed but time will tell if he sticks.


  1. We need Bliss, Hughes, and Davies to get match time at #9. Augspurger giving away a free kick for failing to feed the ball after the USA just secured a penalty was killer. He is way too slow with the ball and doesn't weight his kicks properly. I found myself wishing Kruger were healthy because he at least got the ball out with some haste.

    1. Kruger picks the ball from the deck and loads it up before he passes. The wind up gives the defense another half second to race up and it narrows the time and space of his backline too much.

      I agree, though, Davis especially needs some time. He's in form right now with Ohio.