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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Ireland Breeze Past Eagles In New York


Reality hit home for the Eagles on the first match of their summer series as they fell to Ireland 55-19 in front of over 22,000 fans at Red Bull Arena outside New York. Coming off their win at the ARC there was energy around the Eagles camp about a possible upset but with eyes fixed on their World Cup qualifying series against Canada later in the month and some injuries to key players in the lead up to the match Ireland were simply too much for the Eagles.

Head coach John Mitchell made the decision prior to the match to have some key players on the bench while giving some younger players a chance to start. The thinking was that he wants those experienced players fresh against Canada. On that metric the match was a success. It also gave some younger players experience. However, it came at the cost of a big loss to Ireland in front of a good crowd on national television in a decent time slot. If the U.S. is able to beat Canada and qualify for the World Cup then the gamble will have paid off. If they don't then it will be a summer of lost opportunities for U.S.A. Rugby.

Take the jump to read more.
It was missed tackles early that cost the Eagles. Despite an early opportunity on a flubbed kick from Ireland it would be the Irish that would score first. Keith Earls, who was outstanding all day and easily man of the match, was able to shake off a key tackle and go the rest of the way for the opening score. It was 5-0 to Ireland after just two minutes.

The front-row was an area to watch prior to the match with young Americans Ben Tarr and Peter Malcolm, along with Chris Baumann, all getting a chance. Unfortunately it didn't go their way as Ireland put them under pressure early earning a few penalties. Fortunately for the Eagles the Irish line out was pretty poor all day and wasn't able to make a lot happen.

It took about ten minutes but soon Ireland were in again. Another missed assignment defensively allowed gaps to open up in the Eagles defense leading to Jacob Stockdale scoring a try. Garry Ringrose would hit the conversion to put Ireland up 12-0. Just a few minutes later Earls had his second to push it to 17-0.

Eventually the Eagles created their own luck. Nic Civetta was able to charge down a kick soon after the second Earls try. He recovered and crashed over for the score. The U.S. were able to settle things down in the first half to some degree after the try but were never really able to keep Ireland from getting good possession. A couple of times the U.S. had the ball in threatening positions but credit to the Irish defense as they held the Eagles away from most of what they wanted to do. Niall Scannell was later able to score a try off a maul (some controversy on the grounding after the replay) followed by Kieran Marmion. At the half Ireland led 29-7.

The U.S. made some substitutions at halftime with Andrew Durutalo and Joe Taufete'e both coming on. Their experienced, combined with the later substitutions of James Hilterbrand and Paddy Ryan coming on, gave the Eagles and edge and they were able to make their mark in the sec on half. Unfortunately it wasn't soon enough as Jack Conan scored a try.

Eerily similar to the first half the Eagles soon scored on another block kick. Joey Carbery kept exposing his kicks to the Eagles forwards and this time with was John Quill that blocked the kick and recovered for the try. MacGinty was on with the conversion and the score sat 36-14 with about six minutes played in the second half.

The Eagles were then able to cut the lead to 36-19 off some good go forward play. Shaun Davies came in at scrumhalf with Nate Augspurger moving to the wing and it seemed to pay off well. Additionally, the front-row substitutions with Tauftete'e, Hilterbrand, and Ryan gave the U.S. a slight edge at the scrum and they earned a penalty. From that penalty Ryan took a quick tap and the Eagles were off. Ireland tried to hold on but quick ball from the breakdown by Davies got the ball out to the U.S. backs where Matyas dived over for the try. It was a well worked try and a definite positive for the Eagles.

The competition ratcheted up after the try with the U.S. having some positive play. Unfortunately for them the hungry young Irish players were able to make an impact. First it was James Ryan and then it was the Canadian-native Luke McGrath scoring to push the lead to 48-19. Simon Zebo had a late try for Ireland to finish off the match.

The difference between the level of the Irish team and the U.S. team was obvious. Even though Ireland was running out a young squad in which they gave a handful of debuts every player still comes from a fully professional environment. These players are starting week in and week out on some of the best teams in Europe. For many of the U.S. players, all of whom have made a lot of strides in their professionalism over the past couple of years, rugby is still their second job. It was pretty obvious to see who had come from a full-time professional environment and who hadn't. That's not to knock any players. In fact, the U.S. players do really well and would probably rise quickly up the World Rugby rankings had they the same opportunities as the Irish players.

If you are John Mitchell you'd have to like how your team competed. The players you were expecting to play well did just that and you got some surprise performances from the likes of John Quill and Ryan Matyas. The Eagles gained some good insights that will help them against Canada. At the same time you have to hate how the U.S. defended at times. Regardless of the opponent they missed some tackles they should have made and tactically they weren't always on, especially in their kicking.

The U.S. will now have one more opportunity to get ready to face Canada as they square off with Georgia in Atlanta next weekend. Georgia blanked Canada in wet conditions 13-0 in Calgary today. They will be another tough test for the U.S. but with it being the only match left for the Eagles before World Cup qualifying you can expect a first-choice line-up of non-injured players.


Ireland

Tries: Earls (2), Stockdale, N. Scannell, Marmion, Conan, Ryan, McGrath, Zebo
Conversions: Ringrose, Carbery (2), R. Scannell (2)

U.S.A.

Tries: Civetta, Quill, Matyas
Conversions: MacGinty (3)

6 comments:

  1. I have to think that Paddy Ryan liked good for his first run out. Might be some competition at tighthead for Baumann in the near future.

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  2. Good effort from the Eagles but just not at the same level. The lack of professionalism really shows in some aspects of the game. Although John Mitchell has implemented an attacking style of play, the Eagles showed when the opposition shuts it down they have no adjustment. That's the big difference playing the Tier 1 countries. What do you do when they take something away? It's frustrating because the potential is there, but without a fully professional team either in Pro12 or here it will always be like this against the Tier 1 nations.

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    1. Good effort? Are you kidding. For all but about -5 minutes the Eagles were an embarrasment.

      The tackling on display was poor beyond any measure expected of an international side. The attacking lacked imagination or thrust. Watching the Eagles throw the ball wide, get isolated and see the ball run back 70 meters was a real joy. Watching the Irish feed off simple mistakes to score the easiest of tries was riveting. Seeing the ball sit at the base of the ruck while Augsburger count the dimples on the ball before distributing it was equally compelling. Seeing the few line breaks due to either lack of support and / or poor decision making by the ball carrier should real skill.

      It was a miserable performance.





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    2. What do you think 10 of the 15 players going from club rugby in the US to playing against a team full of professionals that is in the top 5 in the world is going to be easy? It's like facing a high school pitcher and then facing a major league pitcher? What do you think is going to happen? You had expectations that the Eagles could beat Ireland? Get a clue. At least they were fit to play 80 minutes. And calling in a player like the prop Ryan, who probably hadn't even met most of the guys he was playing with until last week.

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  3. There were flashes from some guys that were cool to see, but woeful team defense, and lack of imagination and impatience with the ball, as usual. Yikes, the poor passing/catching, and as noted above, the isolation leading to long-distance tries-- whew!
    Augie is NOT an international level 9. Davies was a welcome relief, but how dismayed I was when 9 got moved out to wing, replacing one of the only really dangerous players we had- come on!
    What's really unforgivable, though, is the basic lack of tackling. How many first strikes did the Irish just blow past, forcing a scramble in the secondary level? Way too many arm-tackles going on.

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  4. This game demonstrated the massive gulf that stands between the US and the tier 1 rugby playing nations. Ireland looked like they would score on each and every possession and the Eagles showed a complete lack of skill on attack, just shovelling the ball from sideline to sideline and back again. The only good thing about it was it chewed up the clock and probably prevented 6 more tries from Ireland.

    David Tamielau's breakaway early in the game was the perfect microcosm of US rugby. He sees open space and immediately reverts to his football roots - barging downfield with the ball tucked in his left arm with no idea that he has trail runners on either flank! A 10 year old from a tier 1 country would have been running with the ball in front and in both hands and instinctively popped a pass over his right shoulder resulting in a sure try.

    This was a shockingly bad loss, there is no other way to put this.

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