Saturday, June 16, 2018

History As The Eagles Defeat Scotland


History. The Eagles have made history as they have beaten a Tier I nation for the first time. It all came down to a final conversion which Scotland's Blair Kinghorn pushed wide on the last play of the game. The win was a long time coming for the United States. This is arguably the most complete team in their history and after several close calls, and wins over teams like Argentina XV, the win finally came. This was not Scotland's full team. There were missing many of their key players as they tried out new combinations but it was a team full of professional players. For the U.S. to stand tall and might the right decisions in key moments is a true indicator of the progress they have made over the next several years.

Head coach Gary Gold said that this was the start of his team's World Cup preparation and if this, along with their nine try outburst against Russia last week, were any indicators those preparations are going very well. Now it is about building on this win. This team knows that they can beat a Tier I nation and now they can take that knowledge and run with it to Japan.

In key aspects of the game the U.S. showed a lot of maturity. They went down early and had to weather a yellow card coupled with a penalty try. Still, they didn't quit and they rebounded playing to their strengths and capitalizing when the young Scotland team made mistakes. They also choose to make the right decisions at key moments on offense.

Take the jump to read more.
Fans could be excused for having a "not again" moment after the first minute of the match. Scotland made it look easy as they found numbers outside and slipped a couple of tackles to put Blair Kinghorn in at the corner for the match's opening score. It was too easy and the type of try that any Tier II nation shouldn't be giving up if they want to beat a Tier I country.

Still, the U.S. didn't let the try get them down. They rebounded and soon found their rhythm in the game. The first score nearly came with eight minutes played but it was spilled forward. Finally the U.S. were able to make something happen after repeated pressure led to a penalty which MacGinty slotted with ease.

Much of the early rebounding was due to the leadership of captain Blaine Scully and AJ MacGinty. Both players have experience at the highest levels and they were able to calm the team down. For his part MacGinty might have had his best outing in an Eagles shirt. He made numerous probes into the Scotland defense and defensively was outstanding. His kicking was also perfect on the day including his two early penalties.

Despite that momentum gained for the U.S. it was erased in the 25th minute. Pressure from Scotland put them close to the line and when George Horne made a break through the line Samu Manoa was there to stop him. Unfortunately it was also an obvious high tackle and after a long TMO review referee Wayne Barnes judged that had it not been for Manoa's high tackle Horne would have scored. With the penalty try Scotland were up 14-6.

Up a man the U.S. were able to keep off the pressure and even pick up a penalty but towards the end of the ten minutes Scotland executed a great lineout that saw hooker George Turner extend the lead to 21-6 after Kinghorn's conversion.

Needing something big to end the half the U.S. got it as Joe Taufete'e spun over for the first of his two tries. The U.S. forwards put in numerous phases before Taufete'e got the reward. The try came just in time as they cut the deficit to 21-13. Unfortunately the U.S. gave up a penalty just before halftime to increase their lead to 24-13. All things considered--the early try and the yellow card--the U.S. were probably lucky to be down by only eleven.

The match turned early in the second half. The U.S. came out with energy while Scotland didn't look focused. Soon Taufete'e had his second try. From a maul he peeled off and dragged over several defenders before stretching for the score. Against MacGinty was on with the conversion and a penalty a few minutes later to turn what was an eleven point deficit into a one point deficit.

Scotland continually hurt themselves in the second half as the penalty count ticked up. Scotland probably had more territory but the U.S. were continually able to bail themselves out with strong defense and a solid kicking game. The U.S. defense was outstanding in the match despite giving up four tries.

The next big moment in the match came in the 59th minute. After a back and forth kicking battle MacGinty put in a chasing kick. He along with Hanco Germishuys applied pressure that forced Scotland into making a mistake. MacGinty recovered the ball and passed it to Germishuys who ran in for the Score. With the conversion the Eagles took a 30-24.

From there is was about holding on for the Eagles. Scotland had a shout for a try with roughly fifteen minutes to go but after a TMO review it was ruled to have been knocked on. The U.S. nearly gave the match away late as their game management with the lead in the last few minutes was poor leading to multiple opportunities for Scotland to score. They eventually did after the hooter but Kinghorn's conversion was missed giving the U.S. the win.

Next the U.S. will close out their summer series against Canada.

U.S.A.

Tries: Taufete'e (2), Germishuys
Conversions: MacGinty (3)
Penalties: MacGinty (9)

Scotland

Tries: Kinghorn, Penalty, Turner, Fife
Conversions: Kinghorn (2), Penalty
Penalties: Kinghorn

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