Saturday, February 25, 2017
Recap: Second Half Surge Puts Eagles Over Chile
A jeg-lagged first half gave way to an offensive explosion for the Eagles as they beat Chile 57-9. With the win the Eagles have gone 4-0 so far at the ARC and have swept the test portion of the tournament. The U.S. will now face Argentina XV next week for what should be a winner-take-all match for the ARC title.
Overall, the Eagles played an excellent game against Chile. At this same juncture last year they were handed an embarrassing loss to Brazil and generally struggled in South America. There were signs of that happening against Chile in the first half but head coach John Mitchell has to be pleased with the way his team came out in the second half and finished off the match. It's what good teams do and a sign of positive growth for the Eagles.
Going into the match Chile, on paper, were the weakest team in the ARC. They have struggled to score and have given their opponents big totals. Early on the Eagles looked fine and even netted a penalty from Ben Cima. However, Chile showed great resolve to take over parts of the match and generally bog the Eagles down throughout the first half. The U.S. had the ball and territory but often found it difficult to break through the Chilean defense.
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Chile didn't have too many opportunities during this stretch but when they did Francisco Gonzalez Moller hit his first penalty of the day to level the score at 3-3 with about 15 minutes played.
Just after the quarter mark of the match the Eagles were finally able to find their first try. Bryce Campbell did well to chase down a kick and from there it was cycled to one support player after another leading to Cam Dolan scoring. Cima's conversion was good and the Eagles led 10-3. That was soon cut to 10-6 when Moller added his second penalty with about seven minutes to go in the half.
The first sign of what was to come for the Eagles came just before halftime. Nice pressure from the Eagles led to several pick and go's where eventually Tony Lamborn crossed over the for the score. At the break it was 17-6 in favor of the Eagles.
A yellow card to Campbell for killing a tryscoring opportunity for Chile just after the start of the second half didn't bode well for the U.S. but they were able to keep Chile off the board outside of Moller's last penalty.
Once the Eagles were back to full strength the rout was on starting around the 50th minute. David Tameilau was the first to score after the Eagles worked their way to the tryline. Tameilau then set up a second try just minutes later as he charged down a kick, scooped it up with one hand, and then offloaded to the supporting Matt Jense. Those tries turned what was a close match into a blowout at 29-9.
With 20 minutes to play Chile had a man sent to the bin and that was enough for the Eagles to pile in more tries. Todd Clever scored after a great cutout pass from Will Magie. Clever came up hobbling on the play but should be fine. Later Lamborn would add his second of the day when he picked the pocket of the scrumhalf sending a pass back from a lineout. Peter Malcolm then finished things off with two breakaway tries just minutes apart at the end of the match.
The Eagles have to be pretty pleased with their ARC performance so far. Players have stepped up when needed and they have earned wins as a result. That said, they will face their biggest test next week as they take on Argentina. That match should be a good barometer of how much the Eagles have improved.
Tries: Dolan, Lamborn (2), Tameilau, Jensen, Clever, Malcolm (2)
Conversions: Cima (7)
Penalties: Gonzalez Moller (3)