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Eagles Chosen for Brazil Clash

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Eagles Chosen for Brazil Clash

Left to right: McFarland, Clever, Quill, Civetta, and Brakeley return. All but Clever will start. Colleen McCloskey photo.

USA Men's 15s Head Coach John Mitchell has made several changes to the Eagles lineup that will face Brazil Saturday in Austin, Texas.

Eight players move into the starting lineup who did not start last week against Uruguay. One starter from last week has change positions. With AJ MacGinty back at Sale and Blaine Scully back at the Cardiff Blues, some of the changes have been forced on the Eagles Coach. But in addition, Mitchell has opted to see some players in game situations. Despite the Eagles' loss to Brazil a year ago in Sao Paulo, Mitchell is clearly confident his team will win on Saturday, and so he is testing some players.

See more on how the USA defeated Uruguay 29-23.

"We want to get everyone starting," Mitchell told USARugby.org. "We'd like everyone to be better than last week. Everyone's a week older in terms of the way we prepare. Guys are mindful of the limited opportunities presented to them with Rugby World Cup Qualifiers around the corner and it's a critical time for a lot of these players."

And so the Eagles have a completely revamped front row with former USA U20 player Ben Tarr, New Zealand-based James Hilterbrand, and Saint Mary's All American Dino Waldren getting the start. Last week's starters Peter Malcolm, Anthony Purpure, and Chris Baumann are on the bench. Last week's second row of Nate Brakeley and Nick Civetta returns for a second go-around. Blindside flanker John Quill and No. 8 Al McFarland return also, while Tony Lamborn replaces Todd Clever at openside flanker. Clever is on the bench for only the third time in his 70-cap career. With Clever on the bench and Scully back in Wales, Hilterbrand has been named captain.

In the backs, Nate Augspurger moves from scrumhalf to wing. In his place at scrumhalf is Shaun Davies, the former BYU All American. Davies partners with former USA U20 captain Will Magie, who captained Leeds University and played profesisonally in England and the USA. Former Davenport All American JP Eloff cones in for MacGinty at inside center, providing some semblance of consistency from Mitchell in that he is still going with the flyhalf-as-center approach that worked nicely against Uruguay.

Indiana University's Bryce Campbell, who scored one of the USA's two tries last week, returns at outside center. Mike Te'o returns at fullback. On the right wing opposite Augspurger is Spike Davis, the prop player who was a football player at SMU before somehow being talked into playing rugby with the Alliance club in Texas.

The big difference between this team and last week's lineup is the kickers. While Magie, Shaun Davies, and Eloff can all kick effectively from the hand and from the tee, the deep three is not a group of booming punters. It's a running trio, and that perhaps signals the USA's intentions when Brazil inevitably kicks.

For this game overall, the Eagles need to avoid last year's mistakes - being overconfident, not taking points when they were on offer, taking the scrums too lightly, not controlling the ball, and committing too many penalties.

On the bench there is plenty of experience should things not go perfectly well. Along with last weeks' front row, Clever, and longtime Eagle and Cardiff Blues pro Cam Dolan are on the bench. So, too, is last week's starting flyhalf Ben Cima, who certainly is a big-time goalkicker should they need one late. As backup backs, there's Peter Tiberio and Deion Mikesell, both very quick. Tiberio has plenty of experience and is a versatile athlete. Mikesell is really only a wing, but he's there to break open a try late in the game.

Of these players, Tarr, Magie, Campbell, Te'o, Malcolm, Dolan, Clever, Cima, and Mikesell were in the USA age-grade programs. Brakeley, Augspurger, Campbell, Te'o, Malcolm, Dolan, Clever, Cima, and Mikesell played high school rugby in the USA. 

Waldren, Brakeley, Civetta, Davies, Augspurger, Eloff, Campbell, Malcolm, Baumann, Purpura, Dolan, Clever, Cima, Tiberio, and Mikesell all played college rugby in the USA.


USA Lineup to face Brazil
1. Ben Tarr 
2. James Hilterbrand (C) 
3. Dino Waldren 
4. Nate Brakeley 
5. Nick Civetta 
6. John Quill 
7. Tony Lamborn 
8. Al McFarland 
9. Shaun Davies 
10. Will Magie 
11. Nate Augspurger 
12. JP Eloff 
13. Bryce Campbell 
14. Spike Davis 
15. Mike Te'o

USA Reserves 
16. Peter Malcolm 
17. Chris Baumann 
18. Anthony Purpura 
19. Cameron Dolan 
20. Todd Clever 
21. Ben Cima 
22. Peter Tiberio 
23. Deion Mikesell