Saturday, February 4, 2017

Bench Play Pushes Eagles Past Uruguay

The Eagles have come away with a win to open their Americas Rugby Championship campaign following their 29-23 defeat of Uruguay. The result wasn't always certain for the Eagles as Uruguay proved to be a tough side but a strong second half led by the play of impact subs helped push the Eagles to the victory. Will Magie, Tony Lamborn, and Matt Jensen in particular were effective and getting the U.S. offense moving to score a couple of highlight reel tries.

"Fair play to Uruguay they gave us a heck of contest," captain Blaine Scully said after the match. "We knew it would be tight and was a heck of an effort. We'll take a lot of lessons out of this game and apply it to next week." The U.S. will close out their home portion of the ARC with a match against Brazil in Austin, Texas next weekend.

Head coach John Mitchell went into the match against Uruguay experimenting with a couple of players and combinations. The most watched of those moves was sliding AJ MacGinty to inside center and starting Ben Cima at fly-half. By and large that move seemed to give the Eagles more aggression on attack at times and Cima did well in his first full cap but there is still improvement to be had.

Take the jump to read more.
Penalties were arguably the story of the match with the new high tackle laws impacting both teams at times. By the end of the match, however, it would be the U.S. that were on the right side of the whistle allowing Cima and MacGinty to pick up enough points for the win.

Uruguay were the first team o the board when fly-half German Albanell, who was excellent from the tee on the day, hit a penalty to put Uruguay up 3-0. That was matches just two minutes later by Cima off a high tackle penalty.

The Eagles were able to find some space and the scrum surprisingly ddid well for the Eagles but they still couldn't find the breakthrough. Uruguay then had the advantage starting in the 12th minute when Todd Clever made a reckless high tackle earning ten minutes in the sin bin. Clever was probably lucky not to have seen red as his arm was high and not really under control.

With the man advantage Uruguay soon made the Eagles pay. Off a well worked set play on a five meter line out Uruguay got the match's first try as hooker Facundo Gattas crossed over. The conversion was good and Uruguay led 10-3.

Cima soon had a chance to reply with a penalty but it was off. He made amends a few minutes later with a good kick. That put the deficit at 10-6 and the Eagles soon had their full compliment of players with Clever back from the bin. Around the 30th minute mark Cima kicked another penalty to make it 10-9.

The first lead for the Eagles came just a few minutes before the halftime break. From a line out MacGinty made the initial break before passing to his center partner Bryce Campbell who lumbered over for the try. Cima would hit the conversion and the Eagles would lead 16-10. Uruguay would hit a penalty to make it 16-13 at the break.

Uruguay got off to a strong start in the second half as they used their maul to perfection to see captain and No. 8 Alejandro Nieto score. The also hit their conversion to retake the lead at 20-16.

After the try the U.S. made a number of substitutions that immediately had an impact. The biggest sub was probably Will Magie coming on for Cima. Cima had a good day but Magie was able to bring a bit more experience to the position and the U.S. attack soon began to click. Tony Lamborn would also come on soon for Todd Clever and the U.S. immediately began to be better at the breakdown.

Uruguay would kick a penalty to extend their lead but that would be all they could get for the rest of the match. Instead it was the Eagles that would claw back. MacGinty would hit a penalty after a high tackle on Uruguay to cut the lead to 23-19. Uruguay would have a chance of their own but Albanell missed for the first time all day.

The moment of the match came with roughly twenty minutes to play. The Eagles were deep in the Uruguayan end and had a penalty advantage after some good work from the forwards. Being able to take more of a risk Magie put in a perfect cross field kick that Scully collected for the try! It was an early candidate for try of the year even if the replay did appear to show that Scully dropped the ball before touching down. The conversion was good and the Eagles were now up 26-23.

The U.S had several chances to extend their lead by MacGinty was off on a couple of penalty attempts. However, he did make one to push the lead to 29-23 with 15 minutes to play. From there the Eagle veterans did a good job to slow down the match and limit Uruguay's chance. The Teros did have a chance at the very end as they had a five meter line out but the U.S. earned a big penalty on the subsequent maul to seal off the match.

The U.S. will now take their focus to Brazil next week. They'll be without Scully and MacGinty as they return to their clubs and will also be without Zack Test who was injured.


Tries: Campbell, Scully
Conversions: Cima, MacGinty
Penalties: Cima (3), MacGinty


Tries: Gattas, Nieto
Conversions: Albanell (2)
Penalties: Albanell (3)


  1. Any idea what attendance was, looked half full at lest

  2. Not a whole lot to get excited about- Malcolm didn't show anything, Cima is nowhere near ready for senior Eagles duty. Jensen and Waldren could be keepers. The scrum held up well, excellent lineout play mostly, but again the kicking was horrible. Sorry but Te'o does not rate at fullback, Clever should be cleared out for younger players. No chance of any improvement closer to a Tier 1 nation without getting the players pro experience. It is so obvious in the quick decision making that is needed and lacking, the panic passing when under pressure. With PRO rugby dead I still say a joint venture between US/Canada, get 40-50 players to commmit and get a franchise in the Guiness Pro12 or England's championship, with a chance to move up to the Premiership.

    1. i had missed this post of you. I don't disagree but was it necessary to sink Pro Rugby more than help him. Now the professionalism possibility for America is nowhere.

  3. What ever the league, Pro Rugby with Canadian or not, Pro 12 or Super Rugby, professionalism looks urgently necessary and USA Rugby doesn't not do, believe me, anything!! Last night, the stadium was empty, the game was poor and Mitchell looked another casting mistakes as in his previous position.

  4. Forget about RWC 2019. Focus on youth and age grade rugby and work towards the 2023 RWC. Try and get investors and sponsors for a joint Pro US/Canadian team to get into the Pro12 or English Championship league, with the goal of promoting to the Premiership. Have real pros that play and train in a professional environment. A team based out of London would be perfect. 4 years ago there were five teams based in London in the Premiership. Now there are two.

    1. Sorry but Manu Samoa, Blaine Scully, are tremendous players that deserve better than wait 2023. And Doug S. showed it was possible. But of course some preferred to sink its initiative ...and now he is in South Africa purchasing a franchise.

    2. Trying to run a professional organization while not paying your employees is a complete nonstarter.

    3. Samu Manoa and Blaine Scully are tremendous players. Great you named two. If you think the USA is going to be competitive at the 2019 RWC you are out of your mind. USA Rugby has to look at a long term solution. PRO Rugby here is dead. If we don't have 30-40 players playing and training year round in a professional environment nothing will change.

  5. Actual USA took quite time for long term solutions...with the results everybody can see! Even John Mitchell is leaving ...And sorry but all the talentuous and professional american players, the situation is just a big waste. As for Pro Rugby, players respecting contract terms were paid...

  6. Is there a replay of this matched being aired? Not behind The Rugby Channel's pay wall.