Rugby America

Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective

RWC: Eagles Fall In Impressive Defensive Effort Against Ireland

BOULDER, Colo. – Inspired by the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the USA Eagles produced a massive performance in their Rugby World Cup opener against Ireland on Sunday. The United States lost out 22-10 at Taranaki Stadium, but received tremendous support from the packed crowd, in a match that was closer than the score suggested.

Eagles Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan, said: “I am extremely proud of the performance the guys delivered today. It was a very emotional occasion and controlling our emotions and channeling them into a positive performance was crucial for the outcome.”

It was a bruising encounter with the Eagles putting in bone-jarring hits on almost every Irish attack. The Eagles trailed 3-0 for most of the first half, and on the last play before the break, Ireland scored. The second period Ireland would put on 12 points, with the USA scoring 10.

“Against a tier one nation like Ireland, we were always going to spend long periods without the ball, so our defense was always going to be the cornerstone of our game plan,” commented O’Sullivan.

Despite rain, Taranaki Stadium saw 20,823 fans cheer on the first match of RWC in New Plymouth. Ireland held most of the possession, but through some ferocious defense from the Eagles, failed to cross the tryline for 39 minutes. The conditions were slippery, but the Eagles were determined to stop the Irish at all costs. Captain Todd Clever was outstanding on the day, leading his country by example.

Ireland’s flyhalf Jonathan Sexton kicked the first points of the match after 16 minutes. The Eagles had their own penalty attempt, but James Paterson’s kick drifted to the right of the poles. Scrumhalf and vice-captain Mike Petri almost sparked a try for the USA, with a well-placed box kick that speedster Takudzwa Ngwenya nearly collected meters from the tryline.

Ireland finally broke through to score, right on half time, thanks to winger Tommy Bowe. Sexton converted as Ireland lead 10-0 at the break.

The Eagles made 65 tackles in the first period, compared to Ireland’s 35. This did not affect the Eagles determination in the second half as they foiled several Irish attacks, then got on the scoreboard through a Paterson penalty. Ireland capitalized off two errors and scored in the 55th and 59th minutes via Rory Best and Bowe.

The Eagles were rewarded with a brilliant Paul Emerick intercept, with the center diving over to the chants of the crowd “USA USA USA!”. Replacement Nese Malifa kicked the conversion leaving the final score at 22-10 to Ireland.

“We now have a very brief 4-day turn around before we face Russia.” said O’Sullivan.

Prop Mike MacDonald made history by winning his 63rd cap for the Eagles, leading out his country against Ireland. MacDonald overtakes the previous record set by Luke Gross.

Earlier on September 11th the Eagles squad attended a 9-11 Memorial Service at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. At Taranaki Stadium the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Band was part of the pre-match build-up on this historic occasion. Both teams also had a moment of silence to commemorate 9/11.

USA EAGLES

15 Blaine Scully (Unattached)

14 Takudzwa Ngwenya (Biarritz)

13 Paul Emerick (Life University)

12 Andrew Suniula (Chicago Griffins)

11 James Paterson (Highlanders)

10 Roland Suniula (Boston Rugby)

9 Mike Petri (New York Athletic Club)

1 Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie)

2 Phil Thiel (Life University)

3 Shawn Pittman (London Welsh)

4 John van der Giessen (Unattached)

5 Hayden Smith (Saracens)

6 Louis Stanfill (Unattached)

7 Todd Clever (Suntory Sungoliath) *Captain

8 Nic Johnson (Unattached)

Reserves:

16 Chris Biller (San Francisco Golden Gate)

17 Mate Moeakiola (Bobigny 93)

18 Scott LaValla (Stade Francais)

19 Pat Danahy (Life University)

20 Tim Usasz (Nottingham RFC)

21 Nese Malifa (Glendale)

22 Colin Hawley (Olympic Club)

USA Tries: Emerick (80’)

USA Conversions: Malifa (81’)

USA Penalties: Paterson (53’)

Substitutions:

Malifa on for R.Suniula (58’), Moeakiola on for MacDonald (62’), Usasz on for Petri (66’), Biller on for Thiel (67’)

IRELAND

15 Geordan Murphy

14 Tommy Bowe

13 Brian O’Driscoll *Captain

12 Gordon D’Arcy

11 Keith Earls

10 Jonathan Sexton

9 Conor Murray

1 Tom Court

2 Rory Best

3 Mike Ross

4 Donncha O’Callaghan

5 Paul O’Connell

6 Stephen Ferris

7 Shane Jennings

8 Jamie Heaslip

Reserves:

16 Jerry Flannery

17 Tony Buckley

18 Donnacha Ryan

19 Denis Leamy

20 Eoin Reddan

21 Ronan O’Gara

22 Andrew Trimble

Ireland Tries: Bowe (39’, 59’), Best (55’)

Ireland Conversions: Sexton (40’), O’Gara (60’)

Ireland Penalties: Sexton (16’)

Substitutions:

Reddan on for Murray (50’), O’Gara on for Sexton (50’), Leamy on for Jennings (60’), Flannery on for Best (60’), Buckley on for Court (64’), Trimble on for Murphy (66’)

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3 comments on “RWC: Eagles Fall In Impressive Defensive Effort Against Ireland

  1. Andrew Gilbert
    September 12, 2011

    I like that they brought on Reddan and O’Gara to nail down the bonus point and couldn’t get it. We were outclassed in all but the D. However, I think the Eagles garnered some well-earned respect. It will be interesting to see the backs get a chance with a decent platform against Russia.

  2. Working Class Rugger
    September 12, 2011

    After that much I also think they could give Italy a fright.

  3. Rugby America
    September 13, 2011

    If only the USA could work out their set piece issues. That would at least give them some attacking options and put some more points on the board. I will be shocked if the USA doesn’t blow Russia out. The two teams have lit up the scoreboard in their recent matchups, so at the very least it should be a fun game to watch.

    I think the USA will give Italy a fight, but Italy are a team built to give the USA big problems. They are a very forward oriented squad and they will live off of punishing the set piece of the Eagles, especially the scrum. Italy is nothing special in the backs, but their pack is top notch. I think Italy is a tougher matchup for the Eagles than Ireland provided.

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This entry was posted on September 12, 2011 by in International Rugby, Rugby News, Rugby World Cup.

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