PHILADELPHIA, PA – The final score, 64-0, is exactly the kind of result the Eagles must have been looking for heading into their match Saturday evening against Chile in Ft. Lauderdale. The details of the process were far from perfect, but they scored 10 tries and Chile never looked like they would score a try. With Argentina beating Uruguay but not getting the bonus point, the Eagles are now alone at the top of the Americas Rugby Championship table.
It was an awkward start from the Eagles. They were in attacking positions almost right from the start and had several chances to score, but it wasn’t until minute 11 that Chris Baumann crossed for a try. Baumann ended up leaving the field during the first half with an injury, which meant Olive Kilifi saw his biggest chunk of game time of the tournament so far.
There were still several moments during the match when it looked like the Eagles were unsure of what the plan was in attack, but it is clear that fly half JP Eloff, who played all 80 minutes, can step. He score the second try from nothing. He also set up try #7, which Jake Anderson scored, by stepping through the defensive line in the second phase following an attacking lineout.
Chile struggled all match to gain territory through the boot or with ball in hand. That combined with struggles at the lineout meant that Chile was not able to build any real pressure in attack. An example of their struggles was the lead up to the try by Nic Edwards. That passage of play started with a Chilean lineout. Tom Bliss put a big hit on the scrum half as he made the first pass from the lineout, and more defensive pressure quickly led to a turnover and the Eagles were off and away, with Edwards finishing.
Joseph Taufete’e score the fourth and final try of the first half with a pick-and-go from an unguarded ruck. He also won a penalty at the breakdown, made some good passes, and did well with his lineout throws. He was my Man of the Match.
Just before half, Edwards left with an injury, which brought Anderson on early. At the same time, Kilifi was given a yellow for playing a man in the air. The Eagles did not score while they were a man down, but neither did Chile. In the entire match, Matias Nordenflycht attempting one relatively long-range penalty goal for Chile.
One of the newest faces, Lorenzo Thomas, scored the first try of the second half. USA had a lineout inside the Chile 22, but Chile won the ball. Thomas ripped the ball away from the Chilean attacker to win possession back for the Eagles. Moments later, he received a good pass and he was in for his try. Thomas looked very good on debut.
Mike Te’o scored twice by continuing to play when it looked like there had been a knock on. His first try was set up by great offloads by Eric Fry and Kilifi. His second try was his last action of the game as he appeared to be suffering a cramp as he cantered over. Luke Hume was involved in several tries, including putting a grubber through for Chad London to collect and score and scoring one himself by taking a penalty quickly from 10 meters out.
The scrum for the USA was a weak spot. They conceded two free kicks on their scrums, and two scrums were won with sloppy ball at the back. Only 2 of 6 USA scrums were won cleanly. From Chile’s 6 scrums, they won 2 penalties, had clean ball 3 times, and conceded 1 free kick.
Chile won 12 lineouts from 21 chances. While several different Eagles were involved in disrupting the lineout, Nate Brakeley was the most involved. The USA won 13 of 15 lineouts. Taufete’e and Mike Sosene-Feagai each had a throw that missed the target.
The USA now loses the luxury of playing on American soil and face Brazil and Uruguay in the final two matches.
USA Tries: Baumann, Eloff, Edwards, Taufete’e, Thomas, Anderson, Te’o (2), London, Hume
USA: 1. Eric Fry 2. Joseph Taufete’e 3. Chris Baumann 4. Ben Landry 5. Brodie Orth 6. Nate Brakeley 7. Todd Clever (C) 8. David Tameilau 9. Tom Bliss 10. JP Eloff 11. Nic Edwards 12. Chad London 13. Lorenzo Thomas 14. Luke Hume 15. Mike Te’o 16. Mike Sosene-Feagai 17. Olive Kilifi 18. Demecus Beach 19. Alec Gletzer 20. Patrick Blair 21. Niku Kruger 22. Ryan Matyas 23. Jake Anderson
Chile: 1. Claudio Zamorano 2. Tomás Dussaillaint 3. Luis Sepulveda 4. Felipe Bassaletti 5. Raimundo Piwonka 6. Ignacio Silva 7. Javier Richard 8. Benjamin Soto (C) 9. Beltran Vergara 10. Cristian Onetto 11. Humberto Chacaltana 12. Francisco De la Fuente 13. Matías Nordenflycht 14. Matías Contreras 15. Pablo Casas 16. Rodrigo Moya 17. I?aki Gurruchaga 18. Jose Tomas Munita 19. Cristobal Niedmann 20. Nikola Bursic 21. Matthieu Manas 22. Jose Ignacio Larenas 23. Leonardo Montoya
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