PHILADELPHIA, PA – Round 4 of the Americas Rugby Championship bore little resemblance to Round 3. Perhaps what we saw this weekend was the power of home field advantage in a tournament that is being played in winter in some places and summer in others. Brazil and Chile both looked pretty bad in Round 3 in North America and then looked much improved when they got back home.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that Jonathan Wicklow Barberie is still leading the way in our panel of experts. Junior Blaber and I both saw an upset coming, but we got the detail wrong; it wasn’t Canada that had its day but Brazil. We were all confident USA would win, selecting the Eagles for our Pick of the Week, and we were all wrong. Fortunately for me, the tears quickly washed away the egg on my face.
After Round 3, the USA was in control of the tournament. After Round 4, it is Argentina in control, with the Eagles skidding toward a guard rail.
Chile 20-23 Uruguay
The match started well for Uruguay while Chile faced the familiar problem of going backward with ball in hand. Uruguay scored first when Federico Favaro went in untouched from a lineout move. Things started to improve for Chile shortly after when they won a penalty from a scrum and Matias Nordenflycht kicked the penalty goal. At minute 26, Nordenflycht kicked another 3 points after a high tackle was called and the match saw its first yellow card. By the end of the match, the yellow card was brought out 5 times. Nordenflycht scored again, this time a try, just before the half. Two Uruguauyan players had a shot at collecting a chip, but both missed and Nordenflycht collected and downed the ball in the try zone. Chile led 14-10 at the half.
Uruguay had chances in the second half to take control, but Chile showed great spirit. They were determined in attack, if sloppy. Martin Secco added 2 penalty goals and Nordenflycht 1 to make the score 17-16 with Chile still in the lead through 64 minutes. A 5 meter lineout for Uruguay set up a try for Rodrigo Silva at 66′. Secco converted to give Uruguay a 6 point lead. Nordenflycht hit one more penalty at 70′, but missed an attempt that would have tied the match 3 minutes later. Uruguay hung on to win. Given Chile’s big defeat in Round 3, this performance, even without the result, was a positive sign.
Brazil 24-23 USA
Holy smokes. It looked bad for the Eagles early, then they fought back and had the lead and the ball with the clock winding down. Then they blew it. The John Mitchell honeymoon is over. Here is the match recap.
Argentina XV 54-21 Canada
At the first scrum, Argentina disintegrated the Canadian pack. Argentina kicked to the corner from the penalty, won the lineout, and mauled over for a try. The second Canadian scrum led to the same result – penalty, lineout, try – and Canada were in an early 12-0 hole. However, when Canada got some possession, they looked sharp in attack and Dan Moor scored a try. Another penalty from a scrum resulted in more points for Argentina, this time 3 for Pedro Mercerat. Then Juan Manuel Leguizamón, whose presence was already being felt in the game, scored from a counterattacking move that Mercerat started. Canada, though, continued to show lots of skill in attack and scored 2 more tries, both by Andrew Ferguson, to take the lead, 21-20 shortly before halftime. Unfortunately, Argentina punched right back and scored their bonus point try to go into the break up 27-21.
In the second half, Canada never showed the same energy and threat in attack. It was a long second half for the visitors. There were more stuggles at the scrum, including a yellow card for Hubert Buydens and a penalty try for Argentina. Lucas González Amorosino came on and showed his class and added to what ended up being an 8 try tally. Argentina benefited from the presence of those experienced Pumas, for sure.
Next weekend, the tournament wraps up. Given the inconsistent form all of the sides have shown, it seems like anything might happen.
5-6 March: Brazil v Argentina, Chile v Canada, Uruguay v USA
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