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Eagles Tie Argentina, Win ARC

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Eagles Tie Argentina, Win ARC

In something of a shock result, the USA has won the Americas Rugby Championship, taking the team's first major 15s international tournament win since the 1924 Olympics.

The Eagles tied Argentina XV 27-27, scoring a try after the final hooter had sounded. A tie would have made for an Argentina win on points difference, except that the Eagles scored four tries, and Argentina only three. Thus the USA wins the tournament thanks to the extra bonus point. 

Here are the standings (minus Uruguay v Chile to be completed):

Americans Rugby Championship 2017
Team W L T Pf Pa Pd BT BL Pts
USA 4 0 1 215 96 119 4 0 22
Argentina 4 0 1 228 62 166 3 0 21
Uruguay 2 2 0 75 111 -36 1 1 10
Canada 1 4 0 112 127 -15 2 2 8
Brazil 2 3 0 63 179 -116 0 0 8
Chile 0 4 0 37 155 -118 0 0 0

The Eagles started the game with a stiff Patagonian wind at their backs, and the two teams traded penalty goals in a very physical opening period. Argentina got on the front foot and were attacking inside the USA 22 when the Eagles caught a break. Prop Chris Baumann ripped the ball out of Argentinean hands, and popped back to wing Nate Augspurger. The wing took off, and despite some fancy footwork was dragged down just short of the line. 

But the support was there, and Augspurger popped backward to Will Magie. The flyhalf caught the ball but fell to the ground, got up, slipped again, and somehow reached over to score the try.

Up 8-3 the Eagles pressed their advantage and off a lineout mauled the ball 20 meters. David Tameilau, who came on early for Siaosi Mahoni, was the man with the ball to score. Cima put the conversion over and the USA led 15-3.

But the last few minutes of the first half would not go the USA's way. A series of penalties put them on the back foot, and despite one or two tough calls, they were still in a position to hold Argentina out of in-goal and end the half. But right on the stroke of halftime, Argentina spun it wide. Wing Mike Te'o put his hand in and disrupted the pass - a deliberate knock-on, said referee Joaquin Montes of Uruguay, and an automatic seven points for Argentina. The play also earned a yellow card for Te'o, and the teams went into the break with the score 15-10.

Things got worse for the Americans in the second half. Now facing the wind, Tameilau got a yellow card for stamping - a play that on further review appeared simply to be the USA lock trying to free his foot from an Argentine player who had grabbed it. But the call that really hurt the Eagles was a non-straight seven minutes in. The lineout at midfield looked fine, if a little wind-blown. Argentina hadn't contested the lineout and it was very harsh to blow the whistle.

From there Argentina turned the attack around and put the Eagles under pressure. Despite a yellow card again Argentina scrumhalf Sebastián Cancelliere for an apparent punch on John Quill (yes it was getting scrappy), Argentina was able to push on, and finally got a penalty try for a repeated scrum penalty. So now it was 17-15 for Argentina. The Hosts got a penalty, and then finally an open-field defensive error opened up a try for fullback Gabriel Ascárate.

Just like that it was 27-15, and about 12 minutes to go.

The USA continued to mount attacks, but with the wind like it was, every turnover or mistake meant a huge turnaround in territory. This happened more than once, but the Eagles kept testing the Argentina defense, and finally that produced something. Ryan Matyas, on as a sub on the wing, broke through. He was able to link with center Bryce Campbell, who managed to stay away from the touchline and set the ruck. Argentina clearly tried to kill the ball, but the Eagles still got the ball out and down the backline. There Tony Lamborn drew a couple of defenders and fed No. 8 Cam Dolan who charged to the corner. Cima's conversion attempt drifted wide, and that made it 27-20.

Here's where the Eagles had been paying attention. They knew a try, and a conversion, would give them the title. Argentina had only scored three tries, so the bonus point for four tries would make all the difference. Back the USA came, unloading the bench and making sure they retained possession and pushed Argentina back. The Argentina team kept giving up penalties, and the last one was right on their tryline. Spike Davis tapped quickly, but was rebuffed. Again the USA forwards picked and drove. And then, finally, Tameilau took a pass and attacked an exterior channel. With his headband flying off his head, the former Peninsula Green HS star scored under the posts.

Cima kicked the conversion, and that was the game.

For the USA, this was the culmination of a superb tournament, where they had to battle against Uruguay, but earned full value against Brazil, Canada, and Chile. Head Coach John Mitchell changed the lineup repeatedly, but it didn't seem to matter. 

There were some heroic performances throughout, but it's worth pointing out that Bryce Campbell was the #13 throughout the tournament, a testament to his play and his durability. Dolan was crucial in this game, and Shaun Davies a sparkplug at scrumhalf. The tight five, however, has shown real improvement, and set the platform for the tournament win.

USA 27
Tries: Tameilau 2, Magie, Dolan
Convs: Cima 2
Pens: Cima

Argentina XV 27
Tries: Penalty Try 2, Ascárate
Convs: Penalty Conv 2, Miotti
Pens: Miotti 2


USA Lineup v Argentina XV 
1. Anthony Purpura 
2. James Hilterbrand 
3. Chris Baumann 
4. Matthew Jensen 
5. Siaosi Mahoni 
6. John Quill 
7. Tony Lamborn 
8. Cameron Dolan 
9. Shaun Davies 
10. Will Magie 
11. Nate Augspurger (C) 
12. JP Eloff 
13. Bryce Campbell 
14. Mike Te'o 
15. Ben Cima

USA Reserves 
16. Peter Malcolm 
17. Ben Tarr 
18. Olive Kilifi 
19. Hanco Germishuys 
20. David Tameilau 
21. Calvin Whiting 
22. Ryan Matyas 
23. Aaron Davis

Argentina XV v. USA 
1. Francisco Ferronato 
2. Gaspar Baldunciel 
3. Santiago Medrano 
4. Pedro Ortega 
5. Ignacio Larrague 
6. Francisco Gorrissen 
7. Lautaro Bavaro (C) 
8. Tomás de la Vega 
9. Sebastián Cancelliere 
10. Domingo Miotti 
11. Julián Domínguez 
12. Bruno Devoto 
13. Santiago Álvarez 
14. Germán Schulz 
15. Gabriel Ascárate

Argentina XV Reserves 
16. Marcelo Brandi 
17. Franco Brarda 
18. Eduardo Bello 
19. Franco Molina 
20. Santiago Montagner 
21. Lautaro Bazán Vélez 
22. Juan Cruz González 
23. Franco Cuaranta