Saturday, June 17, 2017

Eagles Comeback Falls Short Against Georgia

Photo: All World Photo

Despite a furious comeback and a chance to win it on the last play a imposing and dominant Georgian scrum coupled with some basic errors from the Eagles the U.S. will head into their World Cup qualifying series with a 21-17 loss to Georgia. The visitors deserve full credit for taking their opportunities, especially at the scrum, but it was simple handling errors from the Eagles and letdowns in rugby IQ at certain moments that played right into the strengths of the Georgians.

The match was less than desirable in terms of what the team wanted ahead of World Cup qualifying. Combined with the Ireland loss the U.S. haven't looked sharp through two matches. Their passing was especially poor today and with head coach John Mitchell chopping and changing his line-up there hasn't been the opportunity to gain cohesion. The good news for the U.S. will be that Canada also aren't on great form at the moment.

As mentioned, the Georgian scrum was awesome to behold for most of the match and the U.S. never had a good response. Straight from the start of the match the U.S. were put under pressure. Even though things deteriorated later the first couple of scrums were decent for the U.S. and led to some early pressure.

Take the jump to read more.
Each team tried a kicking game to jump start their offense. In the end neither team gained much of an advantage. That was until the tenth minute when the U.S. made a mistake that allowed the Georgians to score the first try of the match. AJ MacGinty put in a decent chip over the defense but the U.S. wingers misread the play allowing Merab Kvirikashvili to race in for the score. Kvirikashvili would miss the conversion but Georgia would lead 5-0.

The U.S. would have a kickable penalty not long after but intead went to the posts. Similar to what happened throughout the day the opportunity was stunted by a knock-on. They would however have another chance to go for points a couple of minutes later. MacGinty nailed the kick to cut the deficit to two. Unfortunately Georgia would hit a penalty not long afterward to restore their margin.

As the first half wore on the penalty count against the Eagles at scrum time began to pile up.  Georgia were able to add another penalty but the biggest advantage came just before  the half. A TMO review led to a high tackle call on MacGinty when it looked like the U.S. has cleared the Georgian danger. Instead, Georgia went back to the scrum where they earn a number of penalties leading to Chris Baumann being sent to the bin. A couple of penalties later and the referee awarded the penalty try. At the half Georgia led 18-3.

Georgia came out firing in the second half and soon earned their third penalty.  The U.S. did have opportunities but handling/passing let them down once again. Still, the U.S. were able to work their way back into the match. A number of substitutions and players shifting position put the U.S. on the front foot at times. The only thing holding the Eagles back was the number of times they kicked possession away.

Eventually they U.S. were rewarded with a try. After an attacking lineout the U.S. went through several phases with their forwards before they finally found space on the outside for Nate Augspurger to score. MacGinty would hit the conversion and the Eagles were back in it at 21-10.

With twenty minutes to go the Eagles caught another break. A Georgian player was sent to the bin for taking out Mike Te'o in the air and with the man advantage the Eagles began to make gains.  Unfortunately it was killed with more handling errors. The U.S. also dodged a bullet with Georgia missed a drop goal attempt.

With less than ten minutes to go the Eagles got their second try that put them back in the match. It began when Matai Leuta was nearly taken into touch but threw a behind the back hopeful pass that the Eagles were able to maintain. Only a few phases later a nice pass from Ben Cima put Te'o into space. Te'o then found Matt Jensen who ran a great line for the score. Suddenly the Eagles had the momentum and were only down four points.

A penalty win from Ryan Matyas gave the Eagles one last hope with an attacking lineout. The U.S. were able to go through several phases but time ran out when Matyas was taken into touch giving the Georgians the win.

There will be a lot for the Eagles to take away from the match but none of them the things they wanted to take away. They are left with more questions than answers heading into next week. There is a likely starting lineup with this group but they have yet to play together for a number of months and will face a Canadian team that are very familiar with each other. They will also have questions of their combinations in the back. The lack of familiarity led to a number of knock-ons and killed any momentum. All of that said, the U.S. on paper are still favorites to beat Canada next year.


Tries: Kvirikashvili, Penalty
Conversion: Penalty
Penalties: Kvirikashvili (3)


Tries: Augspurger, Jensen
Conversions: MacGinty
Penalties: MacGinty


  1. Replies
    1. Hope your being sarcastic. We beat Georgia the last two times we played them.

  2. I urge every US rugby fan to find and watch the footage of the New Zealand U20 victory over England. Not only would this team of 18,19,20 year olds beat the current USA U20's by 150 points, they would easily defeat the current MENS USA Eagles by a comfortable margin.

    We are a generation behind and falling further back every year. Converting dropout football players into rugby will only result in the same hopeless mess we are in. Rugby is for RUGBY players.

    1. Wow harsh!!! Sounds like a bitter boy you never made his high school rugby team

    2. We are still the same 20 years away, just like we were 20 years ago from competing with the top 10 teams in the world. I will be an octogenarian before we win against Ireland, France or England. We will never be able to beat New Zealand, South Africa or Australia. we should focus on the 7s game and stay a second tier 15's team.


    This is the pathway to professionalism. Every single one of these players starting playing rugby at age 5 or 6 with community flag rugby. Progressed to tackle at age 9. Selected to age grade reps for U11,U12,U13. Some stayed local and played 4 years for their community high school while others are sent and/or recruited to attend prestigious rugby boarding schools where they compete against the very best of the best. There are 30+ rugby schools where playing 1stXV rugby is the equivalent to playing NCAA college football at Alabama or Michigan. These schools will have 20 or more rugby teams: U55kg, U65kg, U80kg, U15, 1stXV, 2ndXV, 3rdXV, 4thXV, 5thXV, ...

    They start pre-season training in Jan or Feb. First regular season games in May, stretching out to finals in August. Sep & Oct are representative competitions for U11's up to U18's. Nov & Dec they play 7's.

    Every single Super Rugby game is televised live Feb thru to July. Once a week a feature High School game is televised live, with others viewable during the week on delay. Of course, the All Blacks test matches are televised live. All Provincial rugby (Mitre 10 Cup) games are televised live Aug-Oct with games on Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat & Sun.