Eagles Fall to Uruguay
Eagles Fall to Uruguay
Uruguay defeated the USA 29-25 Saturday in the Americas Rugby Championship, capitalizing on some USA mistakes, penalties, and inexperience to mount a comeback for a big home win.
This was only the second time Uruguay has beaten the Eagles - the other time was 10-9 in 2002 in Montevideo. In 2014, the two teams tied in Montevideo.
The Eagles started the game giving up penalties, but the team’s defense was fairly strong, and the tackles hard. Despite this, the USA was penalized early and scrumhalf Augustin Ormaechea slotted the kick fairly easily.
But the USA showed that they wanted to move the ball quickly, and despite some little issues with staying upright on wet ground, played an aggressive style. That style eventually led to a break up the middle by flanker Todd Clever after he picked the ball up at the back of the scrum. Clever fed Chad London, who drew his man and offloaded back inside to trailing flanker Aladdin Schirmer. The Central Washington University product juggled the ball, as he did last week before his try, but them cradled the ball in both hands, rapped it up, and thundered over for a try.
James Bird kicked the extras and it was 7-3.
But Uruguay continued to battle in the breakdown, and with referee Juan Sylvestra giving them some lee what around the rucks, they forced some penalties and some turnovers. Ormaechea kicked another penalty, and the two teams traded penalties for the remainder of the half. Up 13-9 at halftime, the Eagles were in relatively good position. Hugely inexperienced, they were ahead and standing toe-to-toe with Los Teros. Little mistakes, though, were creeping into their game. There were some issues at the lineout, and several kicks to space went way too far.
In the second half, Bird missed an easy kick after Uruguay had been marched off an extra ten meters for mouthing off.
But the Eagles continued to pressure, and after one of their better phases of play, sub hooker Joe Taufete’e burst through a gap, beat a man, and offloaded to Chad London in support for a nicelytaken try. That made it 20-9, but Uruguay came right back with their forwards, and after a series of pick-and-goes, hooker German Kessler scored. 20-16.
After another Bird miss, the Eagles seemed to get a little frantic and tried to push too much rather than take their time. They lost David Tameilau to an arm injury, and although Nate Brakeley came on ably, he didn’t have the same ball-running capability.
Ben Landry made a nice break, but his support was way too slow, and eventually Uruguay got a penalty (and another ten meters after Eric Fry mouthed off). Fry might have had a point as Uruguay didn’t make any effort to release Landry.
Landry continued to be involved in weird actions, and was sin-binned after he went after a Uruguay player. Ormaechea kicked the penalty and it was a one-point game.
Eventually, it was a 22-20 Uruguay lead as the Eagles continued to fumble the ball backwards, and try to run and sidestep their way out of trouble. it became contagious, as Mike Te’o, Niku Kruger, JP Eloff, and others tried to do this instead of putting their heads down and re-setting the ruck.
With Landry back on the field, the Eagles went through a series phases where they recycled well but didn’t make any ground. Then Kruger box kicked ahead and Tim Stanfill did very well to chase and tackle the Uruguay cover. Uruguay was forced to kick, and Clever was back to field it. He went off on a long run, drew all sorts of attention, and then sent a long pass to London, who drew his man and offloaded to Deion Mikesell on the wing. The Lindenwood freshman had work to do, but he ran well and touched down in the corner for a crucial try.
That made it 25-22, but as in last week, the USA team did not manage the final moments well. A partially-blocked kick allowed Uruguay to run out of their end - which was just bad luck. But Landry’s high tackle was not and he received a second yellow card, and therefore a red card.
Los Teros took the lineout, and mauled it over, and took the lead, 29-25 with the conversion.
The Eagles had one more shot, and even got a penalty with no time left, but they were a man short, and when Lorenzo Thomas was forced sideways and into touch, that was the game.
Overall, for the inexperienced players this was a perfect opportunity to see what test rugby is like. Emotions ran high, and the players struggled to keep them in check.
In addition, some of the players seemed a little shy in the tackle, and they will have to embrace the suck a little bit more if they want to succeed at the test match level.
It has been a long first semester for these players, and they have shown good moments, and bad. This game had a little bit of both.
Tries: Schirmer, London, Mikesell
Convs: Bird 2
Pens: Bird 2
Tries: Kessler, J. Ormaechea
Convs: A. Ormaechea 2
Pens: A. Ormaechea 5