Sunday, February 12, 2017
Recap: Eagles Thrash Brazil
The Eagles defeated Brazil Saturday 51-3 at Dell Diamond Stadium in Texas for their second consecutive win of the Americas Rugby Championship. Despite starting a mixed-side of experience, the United States looked completely different from their 2016 shock loss to the then 36th-ranked side in the world. The Eagles played with width, confidence and fitness. All these were necessary for the eight tries the hosts scored en route to securing a bonus point ahead of their match with Canada next week
Spike Davis, debutante on the wing, opened the scoring after a stolen lineout was moved quickly across the field. Bryce Campbell drew his defender and put Davis into the corner. The big Ohio wing would have several other nice touches, drawing several defenders in contact. Will Magie added to the score several minutes late with a penalty kick, but the flyhalf otherwise struggled from the tee. He was the victim of dangerous tackle several minutes later from Nicholas Smith. The Brazilian captain was yellow carded but the Eagles failed to exploit several possessions within the 22 meter area to score. The hosts looked comfortable moving the ball across the field to utilize their width but lacked the change of pace necessary to break Brazil’s drift defense.
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JP Eloff injected some of that requisite pace several minutes after Smith’s return from the sin bin. The center took a ball from the first receiver 35 meters out, showed half-a-dummy and burst through a gap for a long-range try. After several maul attempts on Brazil’s five meter that fizzled out, the United States got rolling. The maul was stopped just short of the line but Tony Lamborn dove over to extend the lead to 18-3 Eagles at half. The openside was a reliable ball carrier for the Eagles all game, a shining example of hard work off the ball to create space.
After the American scrum was humiliated last year by Brazil, there was some apprehension of starting two young props in Ben Tarr and Dino Waldren. Absent a few questionable officiating decisions, the pair played well and held their own against Wilton Rebolo. Nonetheless coach John Mitchell brought the older Chris Baumann and Anthony Purpura on at half. These two not only comfortably won their own ball but also twisted the screws on Rebolo and his replacement: pushing them back, turning the scrum, earning penalties.
Cam Dolan added pace and energy as a 2nd half replacement. The Cardiff Blues lock was all over the field and bagged a try off the maul at 59th minute. Several minutes later, Eloff clamped down on Brazil’s best chance to score a try by flying back to cover the in-goal. The Eagles turned the ensuing scrum over and relieved the pressure of the coffin corner. From that point, the Eagles put Brazil to the sword with superior fitness and a new-found confidence.
Nate Augspurger quick-tapped on his own ten meter, darted through an off-sides forward pack and turned a fullback’s hips no less than three times before dishing to a galloping Mike Te’o for a try. Minutes later Bryce Campbell stepped across a Brazilian movement and collected an intercept try. The center distributed well in addition to tough-nosed defense. Despite having only three caps, he has developed chemistry with the team and comfort in the number 13 shirt. Replacement Peter Tiberio added the final try by reading a fast defensive line perfectly with a short unders line. The final score brought to 51-3. The stink of last year’s loss is eradicated with this effort. But the Eagles will need to climb higher for next week’s match against Canada.