Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
BOULDER, Colo. – Australia produced a strong second half performance to defeat the USA Eagles 67-5 during the pool stages of the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC). The Eagles played well at times and received tremendous support from the 30,000 crowd at the Wellington Regional Stadium.
“We are disappointed to lose, but as always the guys fought to the end. In the first half we played some good rugby when we had possession, but in the second period Australia was able to increase the tempo and pulled away. The score line was harsh for the effort we exerted and we were severely punished for any error we made, which is a tough lesson when you are playing one of the best teams in the world,” said USA Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan.
There is a reason why Australia won the coveted Tri Nations tournament earlier this year, defeating both the South African Springboks and New Zealand All Blacks. Australia is currently ranked 3rd in the world, having won the RWC on two occasions, in 1991 and 1999. Australia also played in the 2003 RWC final, but a last-minute drop goal from Jonny Wilkinson, gave England the victory.
The opening minutes of the match caused some concern for Australians fans as the Eagles disrupted several promising Wallaby attacks. Quade Cooper – public enemy number one (as he is referred to in New Zealand) – sparked Australia into action with two beautiful dummies, resulting in Rob Horne scoring the first points. The USA came back strongly, but a turnover saw the Wallabies launch a counter-attack, flanker Rocky Elsom dotting down for a 10-0 lead.
The Eagles struck back from a well worked lineout with Hayden Smith finding Tim Usasz on a great support line. The captain busted down the touchline, off-loading to Scott LaValla who carried on the movement. Eventually the Eagles were awarded a 5-meter scrum, which saw an eight man pick-up from JJ Gagiano. He handed off Elsom, and dived over in the corner for a beautiful try.
Chants of ‘USA USA USA’ reverberated throughout the stadium, with so many American flags flying proudly well into the night.
Australia scored two more tries in the first half, leading 22-5 at the break.
The Eagles had periods of play that looked very promising, but the Wallaby defense held out these efforts. It was another bruising encounter for the American side, but it was Australia who lost players through injury. Pat McCabe dislocated a shoulder and Will Genia and Kurtley Beale left the field with hamstring concerns.
The second half saw the Wallabies control the ball during phase play, running in seven tries, finishing the match at 67-5.
“We look forward to our next match on Tuesday. We will get some fresh legs on the field again and have a real crack against Italy in our final pool game,” said O’Sullivan.
The Eagles travel to Nelson on Saturday morning ahead of the September 27th clash with Italy.
15 Blaine Scully (Unattached)
14 Colin Hawley (Olympic Club)
13 Tai Enosa (Belmont Shore)
12 Junior Sifa (Unattached)
11 Kevin Swiryn (Agen)
10 Nese Malifa (Glendale)
9 Tim Usasz (Nottingham RFC) *Captain
1 Shawn Pittman (London Welsh)
2 Phil Thiel (Life University)
3 Eric Fry (Las Vegas Blackjacks)
4 Scott LaValla (Stade Francais)
5 Hayden Smith (Saracens)
6 Inaki Basauri (Perigueux)
7 Pat Danahy (Life University)
8 JJ Gagiano (Univ. of Cape Town)
16 Brian McClenahan (Olympic Club)
17 Mate Moeakiola (Bobigny 93)
18 Louis Stanfill (New York Athletic Club)
19 Nic Johnson (Unattached)
20 Mike Petri (New York Athletic Club)
21 Roland Suniula (Boston Rugby)
22 Chris Wyles (Saracens)
USA Tries: Gagiano (23’)
Stanfill on for Smith (61’), Petri on for Usasz (69’), McClenahan on for Thiel (72’), Wyles on for Enosa (73’), Johnson on for Dahahy (75’)
Yellow Card: Scully
15 Kurtley Beale
14 Adam Ashley-Cooper
13 Anthony Fainga’a
12 Robert Horne
11 Drew Mitchell
10 Quade Cooper
9 Will Genia *Captain
1 James Slipper
2 Tatafu Polota-Nau
3 Ben Alexander
4 Rob Simmons
5 Nathan Sharpe
6 Rocky Elsom
7 Ben McCalman
8 Wycliff Palu
16 Stephen Moore
17 Sekope Kepu
18 Dan Vickerman
19 Radike Samo
20 Luke Burgess
21 Berrick Barnes
22 Pat McCabe
Australia Tries: Horne (8’), Elsom (11’), Beale (31’), Fainga’a (35’, 71’), Mitchell (45’), McCabe (48’), Ashley-Cooper (59’, 64’, 66’), Samo (78’)
Australia Conversions: Cooper (32’, 46’), Barnes (61’, 68’, 79’)
Barnes on for Beale (39’), Samo on for Elsom (47’), McCabe on for Horne (48’), Burgess on for Genia (49’) Kepu on for Alexander (49’), Vickerman on for Palu (54’), Moore on for McCabe (66’)