London, England: London is the next destination for the USA Rugby team after their remarkable victory over Georgia. The fall tour is 1-1 though it feels like 2-0 as the close loss to the AIG Maori All Blacks was a huge moral victory. American Rugby fans are smiling, there is a belief the program is turning the corner and can be a top tier 2 program and a stern opponent for tier 1s. With that said the Rugby Rain Man Collective (RRMC) brings you its USA Rugby vs Georgia analysis of the American performance.
Front Row – The group was excellent in the loose and did well on carries and pick and goes. Nick Wallace‘s beautiful try exemplified that. They also made their tackles and were fit enough to go most of the game as only Wallace was subbed off for Titi Lamositele. Problems remain between Phil Thiel and his jumper as the lineout had struggles. Scrum time they struggled and were often penalized for it. The RRMC have issues with the performance of Eric Fry. The scrum seems to struggle with him there, he has lost all that he gained in New Zealand since he moved to Europe. He got penalized in the loose and he was not alert when posting at a tryline ruck that led to a Georgia try. Loose work was other wise good but a prop is called a prop because he props up the scrum, that is job one and Fry struggles with job one.The loss of Shawn Pittman was huge for this reason.
Second Row – Graham Harriman continues to impress. The big man seems more mobile than he appears. He also seems to be finding his stride on the international stage. The Americas Rugby Championship (ARC), seems to have really helped him step up. Samu Manoa came into the side to play lock. Manoa did a great job of playing like an extra flanker while handling the loose lock duties, including even putting in a grubber.
Back Row – Cam Dolan had a much more quiet performance than he did against the Maori however he was still effective in open play and in the lineout. He may need to help out the scrum and dig that ball out earlier. Captain Todd Clever has to give a more straight forward shove in the scrum but outside of that Clever was back to his best in carrying the ball making tackles and leading from the front. Derek Asbun and John Quill split the openside duties and they both played well, though I think Asbun needs to be commended for the quality effort he put in consider how much size he was giving away to the Georgia backrow.
Halfbacks – Adam Siddall is easily the man of the match. He took his opportunity to play his preferred position of fly-half with both hands. 2 of the 3 USA tries he had a hand in. He did make the breaks but just getting the ball out to the side where the overload was was impressive. His kicking helped win the game and he has effectively replace Chris Wyles as the first choice kicker. Mike Petri had a better game than his previous performances but he still take one step to many when passing, gave away 2 free kicks for slow put-ins, poor box kicks and had a couple shock passes. However his decision making was much improved and that may have been an effect of Siddall or Petri coming out of his funk. We continue to believe that there are intangibles that the average fan can’t see which makes him so valuable to the team.
Centers – Andrew Suniula may have found the fountain of youth. He played the full match and looked back to his best as he remained a load to bring down, gave go-forward ball and even distributed more. Folau Niua showed some of the spark and linebreaking ability that fans had been dying to see. He is going back to 7s program after the tour but don’t be surprised if the 15s program snap him up full time.
Back 3 – Tim Maupin split time on the left wing with Luke Hume and both looked dangerous ball in hand. The more experienced Hume seemed to back himself more but that is to be expected. Blaine Scully was on the right wing and though that is not his preferred position, he looked right at home and may make the 14 jersey his own. Scully’s dummy touchdown to actually move the ball under the posts may have been a difference maker. Chris Wyles looked really good. He carried his solid club form into the game and showed great ability in scoring his try.
Scrums: Not outright manhandled but it might be a case of back to the drawing board.
Lineouts:Not sure what is going with the communication and the calls but that might be a greater part of the struggles than Thiel’s inconsistent throws.
Rucks: Much better job clearer out the opposition and producing quick ball and a better job slowing down the opposition ball.
Mauls: As expected the Georgians used this very effectively and like many teams that use the maul often, they know how to stop it, which they did to the USA.
Defense: The defense came up and pressured well. The closed in from the wing and really limited ball. The first up tackling wasn’t bad. Basics such as posting at the ruck and being in a 3 point stance when near the goalline were poor. Once again, the 7-10 channel aka the channel between the openside flanker and the flyhalf or the last forward in a lineout and the flyhalf was exposed for a major break that lead to a try. Defense coach Phil Bailey must fix it.
Attack: 3 tries is the most the USA has scored in an international since the PNC against Japan. Full credit to Attack coach Billy Millard and if we are doing the math this occurred with Toby L’Sigh L’Strange out.
Discipline: We didn’t add this last time but that was because it wasn’t an issue. This time, the team was heavily penalized and at some point, the boys must learn to adjust to the ref and avoid giving away, easy points.
Leadership: We had to add this because Head Coach Mike Tolkin seemed to have the boys well prepared going into the match. WE also have often called for relieving Todd Clever of the captains armband but he has made the RRMC eat humble pie as he rallied the troops to “stick to the plan and we will win this game on a kick” after the premature move by Georgia to end the game. And sure enough the boys went ahead and did exactly that.
Overall, this victory ahs bought Tolkin time and breathing room. Fans and players are buying back into his system and giving him patience. Some may say it is only luck but if luck is preparation meeting opportunity then full credit to the coach and team.
That’s it for now… feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann and Declan Yeats, respectively.
And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.