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NEW YORK, NY: Canada beat Team USA, again and on consecutive weekends, to deservedly win the Rugby World Cup Qualifier series and officially qualify for the Rugby World Cup 2015. That brought the USA losing streak up to seven. With that, we enlisted Rugby Rain Men, Junoir Blaber, Mike Holzman, Nick Attewell, Alex Rubycech and Ryan Day for a well-rounded analysis of the match and the two-leg series.
On The Field
Front Row: Solid performance with Chris Biller being a standout. Not sure why all the subs weren’t used though.
Second Row: Doyle played one of his best games ever though Lou Stanfill was a bit anonymous.
Back Row: They worked better as a unit than they normally have. The team as a whole made too many turnovers at the breakdown and that is where you look to the backrow to prevent such things.
Half Backs: It is becoming more and more apparent that Toby L’Strange is not the answer at 10 for the US. Folau Niua needs a run-on test and not cameo appearances off the bench. He brings a spark. We love Mike Petri at RWU but in fairness, we are not sure if he has done enough to warrant continued selection with his play. Robbie Shaw should be the first choice 9 at this moment.
Centres: It appears the hole at 13 will not be easily filled. Chris Wyles did a commendable job there but unfortunately he left his kicking boots home. He was also caught out a couple of times. Andrew Suniula is a serviceable 12 at this stage in his career but the spark that his younger brother Roland brings is noticeable and means he should start.
Back 3: This back 3 have all played for the USA before but have never played together. It showed. The communication between Blaine Scully, Takudza “Z” Ngewnya, and Luke Hume was found wanting at times.
Scrums: These new scrum engagements have become a blessing to the USA as the are able to win their ball and compete on opposing put-ins.
Line-outs: One or two overthrows, a couple of not-straights... makes one worry. Maybe not go to the tail as often.
Re-Starts: Much, Much better. In both receiving and kicking.
Defense: Simply not good enough. Canada scored a try and made several line breaks of moves that weren’t complicated but well executed and the US defense didn’t match that execution.
Rucks: As mentioned with the backrowers, there ball was turned over to Canada too many times, not to mention the penalties conceded. It comes down to players getting isolated, poor support and/or poor placement.
Mauls: Attempted maybe once or twice but not enough. The attempts to defend against could and should have been better.
Defense: Much better but when Canada upped the tempo in the lead up to that second and game-winning try, the USA line were in shambles. Players coming out the line, missing tackles not spreading standing to high when posting at the ruck.
Gameplan: It appeared that the USA actually had one and it was to try and keep the ball in hand, run direct and build phases. Unfortunately, despite Coach Tolkin’s mantra of “its all about execution,” it was not executed well in that crucial attacking third.
Captain: We won’t stop calling for Scott LaValla to be captain and allow Clever to be Clever. However, Clever did do a good job in dealing with the ref this week and led from upfront. His choice of going for the try earlier in the game and the late PK at the death were gambles that did not pay off.
– Irish Scrum coach Derek Dowling can be proud of his charges. For the last two weeks, the USA scrum has been a strength.
– Forwards coach Dan Payne needs the lads to play with a bit more mongrel for 80 minutes. A full-game focus plagues the whole team, but forwards win games. If that reads like what was said last week, it is because, not much has changed.
Head Coach: Mike Tolkin isn’t off the hot seat, but this was better than last week. The boys didn’t start out flat and came out with some passion. However there are just too many miscues for a team at this level. It seemed weird to not start both the halfbacks from last week. Tolkin will need to have a look at players that he is loyal to and think about whether they are worth his job because at this point there are at least 3 or 4 players that are on the team that another coach would drop immediately.
Overall analysis & thoughts:
Do not [we repeat; do not] send a developmental side to the ARC. Every player that is not on an overseas contract should be in the ARC – along with those that were part of the camp but didn’t make the RWCQ 23. Please send Mike Petri to club rugby to rebuild his game; it worked for Andrew Mehrtens. Call in Shaun Davies, look for a 13 not named Seamus Kelly. Rugby Canada has done a great job of using its 7s program to develop it halfbacks, backrow and attack. The USA should do the same as well as pull up one of the top 7s coaches to help with the attack and handling. USA can only go up from here, before the face Uruguay in March.
That is it for now, feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats, @ckuxmann and @Ebstide52, respectively. And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.