USA Eagles Taste Victory In Georgia

Adam Siddall kicks the game winner for the USA
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RWU Friend Ray’s Rugby provides the match review comes courtesy of his blog.

Adam Siddall kicks the game winner for the USA
Adam Siddall kicks the game winner for the USA

Saturday, November 16, 10:00 GMT, Rustavi

Rustavi, Georgia: For the second week in a row the USA Eagles have been involved in a battle, one that will live long in the memory of those fortunate to have watched it.

It was an ominous start for the Americans as the concerns about the scrum proved correct. The Georgians drove them straight backwards and won a penalty, which Merab Kvirikashvili casually knocked over from 52 metres. The Lelos kept the pressure on and after several minutes the Eagle defense was caught short on the blindside, and Kvirikashvili was over in the corner, converting his own try from the sideline to make it 10-nil and a near perfect start for the home team.

A good chase by Cameron Dolan on a box kick earned a penalty, and they opted to put the ball into the corner for a lineout. The ball was won cleanly but Adam Siddall opted for an ill-advised cross-kick to the wing and missed his target, handing the lineout to Georgia. Luckily Graham Harriman tied up the jumper to win a scrum. This time it held and after Andrew Suniula punched it up, the ball spun wide to Chris Wyles who forced his way over for a much-needed try.

The two kickers exchanged successful penalties before Kvirikashvili had another ambitious attempt from beyond halfway, this time pushing it to the left. Not long after he was given another shot, this time from a very kickable spot around the 22 metre line. Much to his chagrin he shanked it horribly, and the Eagles were out of jail.

Out of nowhere Wyles made a huge break up the middle and found Suniula and Todd Clever in support, with the captain showing nice hands to put a wide open Blaine Scully away and under the posts. Siddall added the extras and incredibly it was the Eagles in front just before the half, but first they would have to get through another scrum. Georgia predictably won the penalty with Eric Fry in all sorts of trouble, but once again Kvirikashvili missed and the referee signaled the end of the half.

Cam Donla goes up for a lineout throw in front of a packed crowd in Tbilisi. Photo courtesy Georgia Rugby Union, Tamuna Kulumbegashvili.
Cam Donla wins a lineout  in front of a Rustavi Stadium. Photo courtesy Georgia Rugby Union, Tamuna Kulumbegashvili.

After playing a wider game than they had against Canada in the first half, the Georgians tightened up to start the second. Back and forth the action went with penalties creeping into the game on both sides. The Lelos had a clear advantage at the scrum and maul, but the Americans were getting the best at the lineout and with ball in hand.

A moment of magic then broke the game wide open. With the Eagles on attack well inside Georgian territory, prop Nick Wallace sold a dummy and barreled through two defenders, diving under the posts to score a sensational try. Siddall converted to stretch the lead beyond one score and it looked like the Lelos were starting to crack. They came back however, and in a big way.

Mamuka Gorgodze tapped a clean lineout ball to Giorgi Begadze and the scrumhalf hit Merab Sharikadze running on a hard angle through a gap to make a clean break. The cover defense was there but his center partner Davit Kacharava was right on his tail, getting within a meter of the tryline before being brought down. Sharikadze followed up his own pass and from the ruck he picked and dove over for the try. With the conversion good all of a sudden the Lelos were right back in it.

After some tense moments it was a Georgian lineout again, and this time they chose to maul, driving into American territory and earning a kickable penalty. This time Kvirikashvili made no mistake, redeeming his earlier misses to give his team the slightest of leads with only a few short minutes left on the clock.

Things looked certain to go in Georgia’s favor as a knock on by Scully handed possession back to the home side, but the drama had only just begun. After a couple hit ups Begadze kicked the ball into touch to end the match, or at least so he thought. To the amazement of everyone, the referee signalled a lineout for the Americans. Apparently on his watch there was still time!

Mike Petri and Zach Fenoglio celebrate after Adam Siddall's kick goes over. Photo courtesy Georgia Rugby Union, Tamuna Kulumbegashvili.
Mike Petri and Zach Fenoglio celebrate after Adam Siddall’s kick goes over. Photo courtesy Georgia Rugby Union, Tamuna Kulumbegashvili.

The Eagles won the lineout and would you believe it, they were awarded a penalty some 40 metres out and on a bad angle for a right footer. Kickable, but only just. With no time left on the clock Siddall stepped up to the plate. Like something out a movie, the ball sailed through the uprights and the referee blew for full time and pandemonium erupted among the American players.

The American reports will herald their magnificent heroes, ecstatic to get a win at last, and the Georgians will cry foul of a crooked clock, ignoring the many points on offer that weren’t taken. The truth is there were hordes of mistakes made on both sides of the ball and the referee made friends with no one. This was just a terrifically entertaining game of rugby played by two teams at a club pitch in the middle of some place nobody has ever heard of. What a way to start your Saturday.

04 mins – M. Kvirikashvili pen 3-0
13 mins – M. Kvirikashvili try 8-0
14 mins – M. Kvirikashvili con 10-0
21 mins – C. Wyles try 10-5
24 mins – M. Kvirikashvili pen 13-5
26 mins – A. Siddall pen 13-8
38 mins – B. Scully try 13-13
38 mins – A. Siddall con 13-15
54 mins – N. Wallace try 13-20
55 mins – A. Siddall con 13-22
65 mins – M. Sharikadze try 18-22
65 mins – M. Kvirikashvili con 20-22
76 mins – M. Kvirikashvili pen 23-22
80 mins – A. Siddall pen 23-25

M. Kvirikashvili; T. Mchedlidze (B. Tsiklauri 68), D. Kacharava, M. Sharikadze, T. Zibzibadze; L. Khmaladze, G. Begadze; D. Khinchagishvili (M. Nariashvili 56), S. Mamukashvili (S. Maisuradze 67), D. Kubriashvili (L. Chilachava 56); K. Mikautadze, L. Datunashvili (G. Nemsadze 63); M. Gorgodze (capt.), S. Sutiashvili (G. Tkhilaishvili 72), G. Chkhaidze.

C. Wyles; B. Scully, F. Niua, A. Suniula, T. Maupin (L. Hume 57); A. Siddall, M. Petri; N. Wallace (O. Kilifi 76), P. Thiel, S. Pittman; G. Harriman, S. Manoa; T. Clever (capt.), D. Asbun (J. Quill 68), C. Dolan.

Referee: M. Fraser (NZRU)
Assistants: I. Davies (WRU) & C. Williams (WRU)
TMO: n/a

Here is a link to the whole match, courtesy of Junoir Blaber

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About Rays Rugby 24 Articles
I have played rugby since 1993, and began coaching and refereeing as well in 2005. I started writing in 1998, first published on the old Rugby Canada website followed by the National Rugby Post, Goff On Rugby, and I featured as a columnist for the new-defunct Canadian Rugby News before taking a long writing sabbatical while I pursued other interests. I have kept up my knowledge of the game, however, and have returned to comment and inform, only this time on all rugby matters, not just those Canadian. Thanks for reading!