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Uruguay Downs USA Selects

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Uruguay Downs USA Selects

Uruguay A defeated the USA Selects 47-15 Sunday to cap off the Americas Pacific Rugby Challenge for both outfits.

The USA Selects finish the tournament in 5th place with five standings points, just ahead of Canada, the only team the Americans beat.

The Americas Pacific was designed to offer a learning environment for on-the-cusp international players, and certainly is was a lesson for the American team. Against Uruguay the Selects learned, among other things: that it doesn't matter whether you're getting the calls from the ref or not, if you don't win your set piece, you're going to lose; if you're going to blitz defenders, you better back-fill the hole the blitzer might have left; and against Uruguay or Argentina, you can't practice the scrum too much, because if you think you've done enough, the other team has done more.

The USA got into penalty trouble early in this game and never really got out of it. Even though the first serious penalty, against Mateo Sanguinetti was yellow-carded for taking Matt Jensen out in the air during a lineout. Ben Cima hit the penalty for a 3-0 lead, but after that, Uruguay began to take hold. Big holes in the defensive line rather than missed tackles, helped Uruguay find some space and get two penalties. Then Santiago Hernandez exploited one of those holes, and two more penalties later it was 19-3.

The penalties were for a variety of things, but usually in the breakdown - which seemed harsh - and in the scrum - which were 50-50. At the breakdown Uruguay did not cleanly release the tackled player, and certainly their poachers weren't supporting their body when over the ball, but the referee repeatedly called the USA Selects for holding on. In the scrum, several times the USA was guilty of taking the scrum down or the scrum falling apart, but there were times when Uruguay clearly put the scrum to the ground and were not penalized.

This would usually happen when Uruguay had an attacking scrum - the ball would be put in and held under the feet of the Uruguayan front row. If the Uruguay scrum got the shove on, then they'd shove, but if the USA held, the scrum would go down, and replays showed that was more Uruguay's decision than anything else. 

The USA Selects went down a man after one of those collapsed scrums, with prop Angus MacLellan getting the heave-ho, but the Americans didn't back down. A nice break from Matai Leuta and Brett Thompson - working together on the same wing in that movement - set up a run for Malon Al-Jiboori and, after a series of pick-and-goes, a chance for sub prop Jake Turnbull to stretch, roll, and touch the ball onto the line. With Cima's conversion that made it 19-10, but Uruguay came right back to score, exploiting a gap - and an uncalled obstruction - in the midfield.

In the second half, the USA Selects inched a little closer with Uruguay a man down due to a yellow card. Some nice work started with Mike Te'o on a break, and Al-Jiboori and Harry Higgins almost losing the connection, but somehow keeping it going. The ball went back to the right, and back to the left again, where a wide pass from Bryce Campbell found Martin Iosefo, who fed Higgins. The former Arkansas State All American could have gone in himself, but dished to Al-Jiboori to be sure.

But after that, the game fell apart for the USA Selects. All of their most promising attacks died because of little mistakes, or repeated holding-on penalties the result of what we said above - Uruguay players not on their feet. Three tries in the final 15 minutes put it away for Uruguay, 47-15.

The poor calls in the breakdown and the scrums would not have been a problem, however, had the USA Selects players been quicker to the breakdown, and had executed on some crucial attacking lineouts. They could easily have ben in the lead at 65 minutes, and maybe it would have been a different game. The pressure defensive plan instilled by the coaches didn't really succeed - 146 points given up in three games is evidence of that - but it was supposed to be a learning experience.

As for standouts, Te'o continued to make things happen. Aladdin Schirmer was very good at openside flanker, and both Higgins and Matt Jensen got work done in the engine room. 

USA Selects 15
Tries: Turnbill, Al-Jiboori
Convs: Cima
Pens: Cima

Uruguay A
Tries: Gibernau, Hernandez, Arredondo, Klappenbach, Silva  
Convs: Etcheverry 5
Pens: Etecheverry 4

USA Rugby Selects | v. Uruguay 'A' 
1. Angus MacLellan 
2. Joseph Taufete'e(C) 
3. Alex Maughan 
4. Matt Jensen 
5. Harry Higgins  
6. Malon Al-Jiboori 
7. Aladdin Schirmer 
8. Cecil Garber 
9. Nicklas Boyer 
10. Benjamin Cima 
11. Mataiyasi Leuta 
12. Bryce Campbell 
13. Martin Iosefo 
14. Brett Thompson 
15. Mike Te'o

Reserves - All Reserves got playing time. 
16. Hanco Germishuys 
17. Jake Turnbull 
18. Demecus Beach 
19. Christian Ostberg 
20. Pat Blair 
21. Stephen Tomasin 
22. Jean-Pierre Eloff 
23. Ahmad Harajly

Uruguay A 
1. Mateo Sanguinetti 
2. Martín Espiga 
3. Mario Sagario (C) 
4. Diego Magno 
5. Manuel Leindekar 
6. Joaquín Dell'Acqua 
7. Santiago Hernández 
8. Manuel Diana 
9. Santiago Arata 
10. Jerónimo Etcheverry 
11. Nicolás Freitas 
12. Juan Manuel Cat 
13. Santiago Gibernau 
14. Rodrigo Silva 
15. Manuel Blengio

Reserves 
16. Marcos Chamyan 
17. Ignacio Secco 
18. Juan Echeverría 
19. Lorenzo Surraco 
20. Fernando Bascou 
21. Guillermo Lijtenstein 
22. Andrés Rocco 
23. Joaguín Prada