Friday, February 16, 2018

Preview: Eagles Face Hungry Chile

Photo: Connie Hatfield
The Eagles will close out the home portion of their Americas Rugby Championship campaign on Saturday as they take on Chile in Fullerton, California. On paper this should be an easy win. Last year the U.S. made the trip to Chile and won 57-9 and the year before that the U.S. won 64-0 in Florida. Additionally, Chile have finished last in the competition each of the two years of its existence. It also doesn't look that good for Chile this year with a blowout loss to Argentina XV. They did come close beating Brazil, however.

It won't be easy. Chile always make the U.S. work for it but in nearly all aspects of the game the U.S. have an advantage. They are physically bigger, they have more high-level experience, and they have better skills across the board. But as the U.S. has seen in the ARC just because you are supposed to win on paper doesn't mean you actually win.

If the U.S. can do what they need to do and win then they will set themselves up for a two match stretch to South America in which they can repeat as ARC champions. This week against Chile and next week against Brazil should be the easiest matches of the ARC and it could set up a big winner take all match against Uruguay.

Take the jump to read more.
The match from Fullerton will be on The Rugby Channel at 5:00 p.m. et/2:00 p.m. pt.

The Team

Head coach Gary Gold has been forced into making some changes to his team with players returning to their clubs. Most of the changes are in the forwards. Huluholo Moungaloa comes in at prop while James Hilterbrand enters as Hooker. They will pair with Dino Waldren on the front-row. Waldren is the only holdover there. Joining Nate Brakeley at lock this week is Ben Landry who has plenty of experience. The only other change in the forwards has Psalm Wooching start. This is the perfect match to give him time. The only change in the backs is Josh Whippy coming on for Blaine Scully who is back with Cardiff. However, there are a bunch of changes on the bench where several players could get their first cap.

Forwards: Huluholo Moungaloa, James Hilterbrand, Dino Waldren, Nate Brakeley, Ben Landry, Psalm Wooching, Tony Lamborn, Cam Dolan

Backs: Nate Augspurger, Will Magie, Ryan Matyas, Bryce Campbell, Dylan Audsley, Josh Whippy, Mike Te'o

Bench: Dylan Fawsitt, Tony Purpura, Angus MacLellan, Brendan Daly, Malon Al-Jiboori, Ruben de Haas, Ben Cima, Paul Lasike

The Opponents

There isn't a lot of experience on the Chile team but that is true of the U.S. as well. Most of the Chilean players if they have experience are around a dozen caps. Most U.S. fans will be familiar with Nikola Bursic who played for the San Diego Breakers and who is set to play for the NOLA Gold. Other players to keep an eye on include Benjamin Soto, Francisco de la Fuente, and Tomas Ianiszewski.

Forwards: Vittorio Lastra, Tomas Dussaillant, Claudio Iturra, Nikola Bursic, Mario Mayol, Javier Richard (C), Alfonso Escobar, Benjamin Soto

Backs: Beltran Vergara, Jose Tomas Baraona, Italo Zunino, Francisco de la Fuente, Javier Lavanderos, Martin Raddatz, Tomas Ianiszewski

Bench: Rodrigo Moya, Basilio Diaz, Marco Diaz, Thomas Orchard, Inaki de Urruticoechea, Domingo Saavedra, Jose Tomas Maturana, Diego Ramierz

Keys to the Game

Play to their Maximum Level: We're only going to have one key to the game for this match. Sometimes when a team is supposed to blow out another team they relax and play down to the other team's level. The U.S. needs to avoid that at all costs. They have to focus on what they do well.

The Takeaway

As noted, this is a match the U.S. should win easily and we think they will. They match up so well against Chile in all facets and it shouldn't be a problem. The fact that a lot of the team that beat Argentina XV and Canada remains intact should help. It might take a few moments for them to get going but we expect they do and it leads to another big win.

1 comment:

  1. As usual, they will really pile on the points in the second half as the Chilean defense tires.