CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – The final match in the US’ build up to the Rugby World Cup 2015 will take them to Chicago, where they will face their hardest match of the summer. Nobody is expecting the Eagles to pull out a victory, but the match will continue building awareness of the game throughout the country. Tonight’s match will be broadcast live on NBCSN, and the stream is available here.
The Eagles are making the most of their final warm-up opportunity, while Australia is resting a number of their top players.
Australia Starting XV: 1. James Slipper (C) 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau 3. Greg Holmes 4. Kane Douglas 5. Rob Simmons 6. Ben McCalman 7. Sean McMahon 8. Wycliff Palu 9. Nick Phipps 10. Bernard Foley 11. Rob Horne 12. Matt Giteau 13. Henry Speight 14. Joe Tomane 15. Kurtley Beal
USA Eagles Starting XV: 1. Eric Fry 2. Zach Fenoglio 3. Titi Lamositele 4. Cameron Dolan 5. Greg Peterson 6. Al McFarland 7. Andrew Durutalo 8. Samu Manoa 9. Mike Petri 10. AJ MacGinty 11. Chris Wyles (C) 12. Thretton Palamo 13. Seamus Kelly 14. Takudzwa Ngwenya 15. Blaine Scully
According to reports from Australia, Michael Cheika is “set” on his starting fifteen for the Rugby World Cup, and is likely to change things only in case of injury. His American counterpart may have more questions. Blaine Scully is playing fullback for the second consecutive weekend. Chris Wyles slides out to the wing.
5 pm CT: Fans are starting to trickle into Soldier Field, where expectations are high for a spectacle to match last November’s clash against the All Blacks. Rugby Wrap Up will be live all night long with reactions and analysis.
6 pm: Match about 40 minutes from kick-off, according to the in-stadium clock. Both sides are out on the field warming up. Australians look massive even from the upper tiers of the press box.
6:20 pm: Wyles and Petri have both been handed awards for their 50th caps. Petri got his earlier this summer against Japan, while Wyles will earn his tonight against the Wallabies. Both teams have headed off the field for their final preparations.
6:30 pm: The teams are out for the anthems, and it’s almost time for the kickoff here in Chicago.
0 min: Jaco Pepyr will be reffing tonight. The South African has a solid record, and is likely in the running to be among the referees during the knockout stages. It’s a World Cup warmup for him too…
1 min: The Eagles will be kicking be kicking to Australia to start the match. MacGinty takes charge of kickoff duties. Speight recieves and we are off. Ngwenya forces a knock on after the Australians go left to right. First set piece of the match.
1 min: Eagles might not get many better attacking opportunities tonight, but the Australians put the US under massive pressure. Phipps knocks on Petri’s pass, so the scrum moves back a few meters and we go again.
2 min: Eagles marched backwards, full penalty at the scrum. Foley clears 40 meters. Australia lineout.
3 mins: Austrlian maul moves sideways, but the Eagles do a good job of containment. Big hits coming in. Eagles staying out of the rucks, knocked on, but there was a penalty for offsides against the US. Foley decides to go for the corner.
4 mins: Australia wins a penalty from the maul. Kelly puts in a massive tackle on Foley, drawing applause from the crowd. Giteau kicks for the corner once more.
5 mins: Eagles continue to give away penalties at the ruck. Ball falls for Beale, but Pepyr had blown for the penalty and it will be another kick for the corner. Yellow card for Petersen, and the Eagles task gets even harder.
6 mins: Wallabies scrum puts massive pressure on the Eagles. It collapses, and Pepyr resets the teams.
7 mins: The press box is without sound, so it’s unclear why Pepyr resets once more. However, the third time is the charm for Australia. Bernard Foley steps and leaves AJ MacGinty for dead, and it will be 7-0 Australia.
9 mins: Australia putting the ball through hands and gaining yards, but Phipps kicks it straight out. Eagles lineout at the ten meter line, Fenoglio re-enters the match after being blood binned.
10 mins: Sloppy lineout from the US, but they regather. Going to try something through the air, knocked on by Wyles. Quality kick from MacGinty, but a risky strategy moving forward. Wallabies will be expecting another penalty at the scrum.
12 mins: Eagles scrum holds steady for the first time. Giteau clears, but it is marked by Scully and cleared back out to midfield, where Australia try to take it quickly. No such luck. An Australia lineout coming up.
13 mins: MacGinty is judged to have intentionally knocked on. Advantage was judged to be over when Beale cleared, so the Eaglers get a 22. Foley steps another man, and it is too simple for the Wallabies, running it back 50 meters for the try. Nice interplay between Palu and Phipps allowed the scrum half to score his first try of the match.
15 mins: Conversion from just inside the harsh marks is made easily by Foley. 14-0 to Australia.
16 mins: Restart regathered by the US. If there is one area that the Eagles can safely say they are world class, it is kickoffs. POssession in their own half for the first time. Eagles going through phases, trying to place pressure on the Australians for the first time. It’s working, two advantages for the Eagles while they march forward. Penalty for coming in at the side.
19 mins: MacGinty decides to try for 3. Forty meters out, inside the hashes. Goes through, and now 14-3 Australia.
20 mins: It must be said that Australia’s kicking is pretty aimless at the moment. Foley puts it into the 22, where Scully clears easily. Australia are able to run from deep though. Manoa steps into the Australian line and knocks it on. Scrum to the Wallabies at the 10 meter line.
22 mins: Eagles scrum holds steady again, massive improvment from the first 2 of the match. Foley tries a no look pass, and it somehow finds a man. Eagles forcing turnovers with some great pressure on the first man.
23 mins: Eagles go through some phases, and clear it into the 22. Giteau calls for his mark, and clears it right back. The US kick chase is much more impressive, but the Austrlians are just too good with ball in hand.
24 mins: Palamo CRUSHES Giteau, Scully manages to clear a dangerous kick that came over the top of the Eagles defense. The US has held together except for 2 unfortunate coverage breakdowns, and look much better than they did against New Zealand in the same venue. Being together for 2 months as a team clearly has its perks for Mike Tolkein’s side.
25 mins: Wallabies lineout just inside the Eagle’s half. Comes off the top, and Australia moves the ball back and forth with aplomb. Eagles not going to be caught on the back foot, but are paying for it with Pepyr’s tight offsides calls.
27 mins: Wallabies’ lineout inside the 22. They go for the maul, which the US has combated well. Giteau looks like he’s free, but knocks on. Pepyr plays advantage to the US and Scully clears, but it is judged to have gained no advantage for the US.
28 mins: US scrum comes under pressure, Manoa picks off the back, MacGinty steps a man and manages to clear outside the 22. Much the same position they would have been in without the scrum advantage, but on the opposite end of the field.
29 mins: Australia is getting HAMMERED when they try to simply run through the US. A knock turns into a kick chased brilliantly by Wyles, US lineout.
30 mins: Palamo loses about 40 yards trying to get too fancy, the Eagles are put inside their own 22. Great clearance from Scully, but the Austrlians running well, as they have all night.
31 mins: Eric Fry finds himself in open space and doesn’t quite know what to do, but Taku Ngenya does! Impressive ball movement from the US leads to a try! Something that didn’t happen against New Zealand, and it is now 14-8, Australia leads.
32 mins: Tough conversion, but MacGinty is up to the task. 14-10, Eagles are competitive at the 33 minute mark!
34 mins: Eagles gather the restart. Wallabies defense is not impressive right now. US able to run it out of their own 22, and clear.
35 mins: Terrible kick chase from Australia, who seem a little disinterested. The same can’t be said for Seamus Kelly, who puts Nick Phipps on the ground. Wallabies maintain possession until they knock on. Eagles scrum.
36 mins: Scrum goes down, it will be reset. Good attacking position here for the Eagles if they can maintain possession.
37 mins: Australia engage early, free kick to the Us. Going through the phases, MacGinty tries his now patented pump fake. Australia don’t bite, but the Eagles maintain possession. Confusion reigns after an apparent knock, charge down, and another knock, Pepyr waves play on.
38 mins: Straight out, another fundamental error from the Wallabies. US will get one more attacking opportunity before the half, from about the 35 yard line.
39 mins: Eagles gather from the back and maul. Australia peels away, but their second defensive effort is great. Eagles unable to bring the ball back, and it is a scrum to the Wallabies as the half time whistle blows.
40 mins: Phipps takes it, grubs it ahead for Giteau, who is almost free. Great cover tackle from Ngwenya. Crazy half for the Eagles, far better effort than anyone would have expected. No points allowed for 25 minutes, have actually gone on a 10-0 run after Peterson’s yellow card. An upset here would be truly historic, but the Wallabies will surely come out the locker room with plenty to prove after a terrible half.
Halftime: Major difference from the NZ match: Eagles coming up and meeting the Wallabies at the gainline, rather than receiving the man and trying to tackle someone hurtling at them full speed. A fantastic defensive effort here.
40 mins: US to receive the kick. If they can do something with it, who knows where this match could go. The potential to send shockwaves throughout the rugby world is real. 40 minutes ago, you couldn’t have said that.
40 mins: Of course, the likeliest outcome is still a resounding Wallabies win. But for now, it’s nice to dream.
40 mins: Scully leaps for the kick, and we are underway. Ngwenya puts in a huge hit after a clearance. , but the Wallabies are moving it side to side. Palamo risks a high tackle, Pepyr lets them play on.
41 mins: Penalty for Australia, a knock on into an offside man. MacGinty puts his cannon to good use, and US is back in Wallaby territory.
42 mins: Eagles going through phases before MacGinty tries a chip. Inside the 22, marked and cleared. US will have to start again, from in their own territory.
43 mins: Eagles throwing to the back quite a bit. Risky move, but pays dividends. Penalty for offside against Australia. MacGinty will put his boot through it once more.
44 mins: What a wonderful kick. From his own 40, MacGinty puts the Eagles about 8 yards out. Crowd is getting rowdy, and they should be.
45 mins: Lost forward as the Eagles tried to get a maul going. Scrum to Australia. They will look to clear immediately. Under huge pressure early in the second half, not the start that Cheika wanted.
46 mins: Wallabies’ scrum is dominant, as expected. A penalty, so Foley will relieve some of the pressure..
47: Dean Mumm and Quade Cooper on for Australia. A maul gets going from the lineout. Reminder that Australia are so dangerous with ball in hand. Eric Fry gets caught behind the gain line, and is offside. Penalty coming
48 mins: Even though the score is tighter than expected, Austrlia still going for the corner. They try to get a maul going, and the pack is just too big for the US. Try goes to Sean McMahon. 19-10 Australia.
49 mins: Tough conversion for the right footer Foley. Sails through, and it’s 21-10 Australia.
50 mins: All the Wallabies need is a moment, and they can turn it into points. They gather the restart, and march across the halfway mark before Genia puts a clearance into the 22, where Wyles calls a mark. Sloppy in-field kicking once more.
51 mins: Seems like a very ungenerous spot from the line judge, but it will be a Wallaby lineout at around the 30. Goes to the back, not straight. US takes the lineout. Another unforced error for Australia.
52 mins: Palamo gets to stretch his legs and carries three Wallabies with him. MacGinty may be a bit too in love with his kicking at the moment. Though the US chases well, Australia are running well with ball in hand. Pepyr brings it back for offsides on the kick.
53 mins: Into the 22 once more. The Eagles can expect to see another maul. A bright first half has fizzled somewhat. Australia have taken the pace out of the game, a smart move. Instead, it goes to the back. Vicious hits coming in. Australia creeps ever closer, and Dean Mumm crashes over for the try. 26-10 Australia.
55 mins: Another tough conversion sunk. The game probably gone from the Americans now. The first fifteen minutes of each half have seen two Australia tries, it is now 28-10 Australia.
56 mins: Attendance announced at 23,112. Australia gathers. The US looking a little tired now, sliding off tackles they made before the half.
57 mins: MacGinty clears after a brief exchange of kicks. Australia lineout in the Eagles half, and the US looks like their standard may be slipping just a little as we enter the final quarter of play.
57 mins: A break in play for an injury. The biggest thing for the US is that they have looked like they belong on the same field as Australia tonight; something that could not be said 10 months ago. Major developments and strides have clearly been made.
58 mins: Danny Barrett manages to turn the ball over in the ruck. A massive hit from McMahon forces a knock on, but Australia offside from the ensuing kick. MacGinty puts it inside the 10. The US must start taking these chances.
61 mins: The US can’t make it stick. Twice they have been inside the 10 thanks to a MacGinty penalty, and come away with nothing. Some clever play from the US, refusing to be drawn into a maul. Australia called for obstruction. Some fisticuffs after, Pepyr calls the captains over. A USA chant gets going…blood boiling and Australia is clearly frustrated that they have not had it all their way tonight.
62 mins: Ngwenya and Barrett combine on the blind side, but Ngwenya knocks on, so an Aussie scrum is coming.
63 mins: Penalty for Australia from the scrum. Recurring problem for the US tonight. They had largely solved their setpiece difficulties during the PNC against Tier 2 sides. As we are seeing tonight, one of the powerhouses is a very different proposition.
65 mins: Massive hits still coming in and forcing turnovers, but another knock on means it will be a Wallaby scrum. Likely an Australia penalty immediately following.Petri digs it out.
66 mins: Eagles scrum disintegrates at the back, but the Wallabies take it out and try running it through the backs. Ngwenya has been massive tonight, puts in another huge hit. INTERCEPT but Wyles is caught. US scrambline to make it forward. Petri brings it out to Quill. US taking it from the base of the rucks. Huge chants of USA, urging them on. At the goal line, Barrett is on top. US has advantage from an offside, no yellow, though it bordered on a professional foul. MacGinty foes for the corner. 12 minutes remain.
68 mins: The lineout goes astray, Everything goes wrong for the Eagles and Beale goes all the way, full length of the field for the Eagles are rightfully gutted. 33-10 Australia.
70 mins: Another touchline conversion awaits Bernard Foley, who slots it once more. 35-10 Australia.
71 mins: It will be hard to believe for fans who did not watch the whole match, but the Eagles legitimately had their chances to make this a very, very close game. 3 chances inside the 5 meter line have gone begging. Australia have been clinical at those points. Odd as it is to say, that is the difference between the sides at the moment.
72 mins: Niua on for the Eagles. That did not bode well for the US last week. They lost all continuity when MacGinty left the field, and now it will be a scrum to Australia after the US bring the ball into a tackle and can’t bring it out.
73 mins: Pepyr has his arm extended for a penalty, Austrlia take it from deep. Quade Cooper spins his way through to the try line. It looks like he was held up, but the TMO will have the final say. He did touch it down, 40-10 Australia.
74 mins: Foley has had a magnificent night from the tee. 6 of 6 on his conversion, 42-10 Australia.
75 mins: US turns the ball over, going to give everything for a consolation try. They have played well in parts, but been let down by the set-pieces in pressure packed situations.
76 mins: Australia gets the penalty, kicked to touch. Match may sputter to a conclusion.
77 mins: Eagles turn the lineout over. They will get at least one more opportunity from inside the Wallabies’ half. Knocked on, and Australia come forward ruthlessly.
78 mins: Brilliant kick over the top puts the Eagles deep in their own 22. Lineout is secured, but turned over in the ruck. Austrlia look of one more, and get it through Taqele Naiyaravoro. 47-10 Australia. The scoreline is more than a bit harsh now.
79 mins: Might be time for one more kick off after Foley spoils his perfect night. 6 of 7 on the night isn’t a bad return however. Whistle blows, but time for one more kick. Straight out, scrum center to the Wallabies. Same situation led to a try last week for the Eagles, but somehow I think the Australia scrum is too strong to be overcome.
80 mins: Ball comes out, Australia want to put even more one the board. Eagles desperately defending now. Chipped over the top to Scully, who evadese two men, bringing it out. No quit in this US team, but they have to go 75 yards to score.
80 mins: Made it out to midfield. Wyles is fighting hard for each yard, and the Eagles are putting in some great work to win penalties and give the some extra rugby. Knocked on by Seamus Kelly though, and the final whistle blows. Final Score Australia 47, USA 10.
The scoreline is harsh on the Eagles, who played well for 65 minutes. The Wallabies superior attack and clinical finishing ability told in the end. A competitive first half gave way to a grusome second, where Australia scored 33 unanswered points.