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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Missed Kicks Cost Eagles Against Georgia


Next week the Eagles will look back on their match against Georgia and wonder what could have been as they narrowly fell 21-20 in Tbilisi. It all came down to a few missed kicks that had they gone in could have given the result to the Eagles. In particular a late difficult conversion after a Bryce Campbell try had breathed life into the Eagles chances. However, it wasn't to be as the Eagles return home from Europe with a 1-1 record and plenty to think about ahead of the ARC in a few months time. 

The scrum was always going to a focus on the match and the Georgians wasted no time trying to make it a focal point. Despite an early win from the U.S. the Georgians mostly were dominant in that area. To counter the Georgian set piece play the U.S. tried to play quick and they saw some success early. They were helped by the fact that Georgia were guilty of a number of penalties early on that allowed the Eagles to kick for territory. 

Soon the Eagles were on the board. With just five minutes gone the U.S. stayed very patient on the maul and were rewarded when Joe Taufete'e crashed over. Unfortunately the conversion would be off from MacGinty and the Eagles would lead 5-0. 

Take the jump to read more.The U.S. actually had most of the better play the first 10 minutes of the match before Georgia began to assert themselves. They had an early chance only to be thwarted by a timely Marcel Brache intercept. However, they couldn't keep Georgia out for long and were soon smacked with a penalty try at the scrum. With the conversion being automatic the Eagles fell behind 7-5. 

Still, the Eagles stayed resilient. They had an advantage when a Georgian player was sent to the bin for a dangerous tackle just after the quarter mark. With the man advantage the Eagles scored a near repeat try of their first with Taufete'e crashing over. This time MacGinty was on with his conversion and the Eagles held a 12-7 lead. 

Unfortunately the U.S. couldn't stop the Georgian pack. Even down a man the Georgians were able to boss the U.S. forwards with prop Levan Chilachava eventually scoring. The conversion put Georgia back in front 14-12. 

The U.S. gained another advantage when Georgia had a second player sent to the bin, this time for a forearm shiver delivered to John Quill. However, with the two man advantage the Eagles weren't able to take advantage and once restored to 14 Georgia found a third try to lead 21-12 at halftime. 

In the second half the U.S. started out with a lot of possession. Throughout the affair they had plenty of possession but had a very difficult time breaking down the Georgians. It looked like Georgia were going to get another try with a five meter scrum. The U.S. were penalized on the first go around and given a warning. With a yellow card and possibly a penalty try seeming inevitable the Eagles pulled out a miracle and were not only able to escape the scrum penalty free but also with the ball. 

With momentum somewhat on their side the Eagles pressed and were able to earn a penalty on Georgia with about 20 minutes to go. MacGinty, stepped up to hit this one (he had missed a conversion and a penalty in the first half) to give the Eagles life at 21-15. 

After some sloppy play from both sides it was the Eagles that would find the next break through. With just five minutes left the Eagles were finally able to find space on the wing for the first time in the match. A great pass from Tony Lamborn found Bryce Campbell who raced into the corner for the try. Unfortunately MacGinty missed the difficult conversion and Georgia were able to wind down the clock for the win. 

There were a lot of positive takeaways for the Eagles. The scrum was generally dominated but not thoroughly dominated. Their defense was strong throughout most of the match and had they been able to take advantage of a normally strong kicking game they could have won the match. That said, there is still plenty to improve upon. The attack looked stagnant at times and the scrum is still a major worry. Now the U.S. will have to wait until February when they take on a Argentina XV side they have drawn with twice in a row. 

U.S.A.

Tries: Taufete'e (2), Campbell
Conversion: MacGinty
Penalty: MacGinty

Georgia

Tries: Penalty, Chilachava, Bregvadze
Conversion: Penalty, Aprasidze (2)

1 comment:

  1. We should have won the match by at least 13 points. No excuse for turning the ball over and allowing Georgia to go up the pitch and score with only 13 men. We should have and needed to punch it in there. That would have at least made the match 17-14 going into half. MacGinty left 7 points on the paddock in missed kicks. Had MacGinty made those kicks along with the try we should have scored, it would have been 34-14 final. We have to take advantage of the opposing team's mistakes and make them pay. A potential 20-point win turns into a 1-point loss. Not good. However, this highlights the continuing need for our best players to be in full-time high performance environments and for more time in camp when the team assembles.

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