HOUSTON, TX – With a new coaching staff and 5 new caps, there is a lot we don’t know about how the Americas Rugby Championship match between USA Rugby’s Eagles and the Argentina XV will go tonight. I am pretty sure that whatever the specifics of the match, the scoreboard operator who put up his/her guess (14-5) will be wrong. It is tough to imagine Argentina being held to just 5.
Here are the things on my mind this morning:
Things that are true for every match remain true here. For the Eagles to have a chance to win, they need to win their set piece and tackle well. Additionally, with a new half-back pairing, they will need to avoid aimless or poor tactical kicking.
How well will the new 10 (James Bird), 12 (Lemoto Filikitonga), and 13 (Chad London) work together defensively? London and Filikitonga were on the USA Selects tour to South America together last spring, so they aren’t strangers. Still, Blaine Scully might have a busy evening trying to shut down breaks that come up the middle.
What will the work rate be for Brodie Orth and David Tameilau? Tameilau seemed to be getting quite a bit of attention during training, from coaches and veteran players, trying to make sure he was aware of his responsibilities in different situations.
Where will the spark in attack come from? My hunch is that it come from bursts from the forwards. Todd Clever and Cam Dolan both have the capacity to get into space, and Joseph Taufete’e has shown he is a danger in attack as well. If the forwards can create some holes and put Bird on the front foot, my initial impression is that he can make good distribution decisions and passes.
Kingsley McGowan seems like he can be a real threat in attack and my hunch is he will go hunting for opportunities to carry the ball. However, the strength of this Argentina XV lies in their back three, so he will need to do quite a bit of defending. The experienced Scully and Takudzwa Ngwenya will need to help make sure McGowan doesn’t get caught out of position.
Tom Bliss was not mentioned in the announcement of the lineup for today. He is out with an injury; he is hoping to be fit for Canada.
Men’s Eagles | v. Argentina XV
1. Eric Fry 2. Joseph Taufete’e 3. Chris Baumann 4. Brodie Orth 5. Greg Peterson 6. Cam Dolan 7. Todd Clever 8. David Tameilau 9. Niku Kruger 10. James Bird 11. Kingsley McGowan 12. Lemoto Filikitonga 13. Chad London 14. Takudzwa Ngwenya 15. Blaine Scully (C)
Men’s Eagles | Reserves
16. Mike Sosene-Feagai 17. Olive Kilifi 18. James Hilterbrand 19. Ben Landry 20. Alec Gletzer 21. JP Eloff 22. Mike Te’o 23. Jake Anderson
Argentina XV | v. USA
1. Roberto Tejerizo 2. Santiago Iglesias 3. Felipe Arregui 4. Marcos Kremer 5. Ignacio Larrague 6. Rodrigo Báez (C) 7. Lautaro Bavaro 8. Santiago Montagner 9. Gonzalo Bertranou 10. Domingo Miotti 11. Tomás Carrió 12. Joaquín Paz 13. Juan Cappiello 14. Matías Orlando 15. Ramiro Moyano
Argentina XV | Reserves
16. Franco Brarda 17. Gaspar Baldunciel 18. Cristian Bartolini 19. Pedro Ortega 20. José Deheza 21. Lautaro Bazán Vélez 22. Juan Novillo 23. Juan Pablo Estellés