Chile Edges USA, Qualifies for World Cup
Chile Edges USA, Qualifies for World Cup
Chile has qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France and the USA will have one more shot to get there with the final qualifier tournament in November.
The Eagles squandered a commanding 19-0 lead Saturday in Glendale, eventually losing to the Condors 31-29, and thus losing the aggregate score 52-51.
The Eagles started off well enough, putting Chile under pressure and coming close with a maul. But their first score was just an impressive piece of skill.
According to Plan
From a lineout scrumhalf Ruben de Haas went weak and popped a pass to wing Martin Iosefo. The wing then kicked ahead for de Haas to chase. The ball bounced into in-goal and de Haas bobbled it a bit. Realizing he was about to run over the dead ball line, de Haas turned around and knocked the ball backward to Iosefo, who was in support. Try for Iosefo, and AJ MacGinty kicked the conversion from the sideline for a 7-0 lead.
Both teams struggled with the thin Colorado air and kept kicking the ball dead. The USA had shown themselves to be more useful with the ball in hand, and yet insisted on kicking it. This would cause them problems later.
A likely try from a lineout went begging when Hanco Germishuys appeared to lose the ball as he went over the line. That was of several important scoring opportunities lot by the USA.
Stil the Eagles proved they could run the ball. A long period of continuity and some powerful runs and well-taken offloads resulted in a nice try in the corner for Iosefo and a 14-0 lead with MacGinty’s touchline conversion.
Everything seemed to be going according to plan.
The forwards piled over Greg Peterson for what seemed like the third USA try, but that try was eventually overturned by the TMO. Still, from the ensuing scrum Cam Dolan hiked the ball to de Haas who popped to MacGinty and the captain wriggled his way over. Conversion missed but it was 19-0 after 30 minutes.
Ten Minutes of Hell
Then the USA discipline problems started. Why they started is a mystery. Up 20 points in aggregate the Eagles were dominating the scrum and showing good continuity and the ability to score tries.
But then Nick Civetta was sin-binned for a ruck clearout into a player’s head. Both players were low, so it wasn’t a red, but the yellow card hurt.
Chile scored two tries in those ten minutes; the first started with the lineout Chile took off that Civetta penalty. The Condors ran a couple of phases, and then scrumhalf Marcel Torreabla scampered wide, found a gap, and was in under the posts.
And then as the half came to a close the Chilean forwards blasted up the middle before quick hands and some bunching USA defense saw Matias Garafulic cut around the outside and into the corner. Conversion good and it was 19-14 at halftime.
The second half saw the Eagles come back to try to regain momentum and this they did. The forwards worked well together and forced a couple of penalties. Finally Joe Taufete’e scored quite a wonderful try, popping off the back of a stalled maul to beat three defender and dive over.
MacGinty converted and it was 26-14.
But right off the restart a poorly-chased kick to Rodrigo Fernández proved as problematic as it did the week before. The flyhalf beat a couple of would-be tacklers and then set up wing Santiago Videla, who beat one tackler and carried Christian Dyer over the line. The wing converted his own score and it was 26-21.
The Tide Turns
The Eagles appeared to answer, with some smart passing allowing Iosefo to seemingly claim his third. But further review showed he was touch-in-goal. No try.
The Eagles did take a penalty from MacGinty only to conceded a try at by prop Matias Ditus. Still up 29-28 at 62 minutes, the Eagles couldn’t hold that lead.
Dominant in the scrum all day the Eagles were split apart by a big Chilean shove with only about five minutes to go. Videla lined up the kick from just over 40 meters out and at a tough angle, and made the kick easily.
Now it was the USA’s turn to chase the game down. They did well, working their way into the Chilean 22 and getting a penalty for not rolling away. MacGinty lined up a kick that was not a particularly difficult one. But before he could kick it the referee looked at the replay and saw that Chance Wenglewski had pulled a Chilean player away from the ball by the neck. The penalty was reversed, and that was the end of any chance for the USA. Chile played out the game, and won.
In the end the USA seemed to sit on a lead they couldn’t afford to sit on. They made too many mistakes and too many penalties they didn’t need to make. Those 14 points they gave up when shorthanded were crucial, and once again in a World Cup Qualifier the USA squandered a seemingly strong lead.
Tries: Iosefo 2, MacGinty, Taufete’e
Convs: MacGInty 3
Tries: Torreabla, Garafulic, Videla, Ditus
Convs: Videla 4