Eagles head to Atlanta with 27-27 first-leg draw

Eagles head to Atlanta with 27-27 first-leg draw

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay – The Men’s Eagles scored three tries in the second half and held Uruguay with 14 men for the final 10 minutes to draw, 27-27, the first leg of the IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 at Estadio Charrua Saturday.

The first half was not the prettiest 40 minutes of rugby, as Uruguay kicked four penalties and could have had more. Folau Niua gave the Eagles the lead in the first two minutes with a penalty kick, but Felipe Berchesi replied for Uruguay.

Niua could have given the Eagles a second lead with a penalty kick attempt about 15 meters out, but his kick hit the post and Uruguay moved down the field on the attack. Eventually, Berchesi added his second penalty in three attempts to give Uruguay a 6-3 lead.

Niua kicked his second in the 28th minute before Berchesi again gave Los Teros the lead with a penalty. They extended the lead with a try in the 35th minute though it was reviewed. The try-scorer was thought to have been taken into touch by the Eagles, but he touched down before his leg went into touch. Berchesi’s conversion was from a tough angle but he managed to put the ball through the uprights for a 19-6 lead.

Uruguay withstood a few attacks from the Eagles close to the try line. Eric Fry finished off one attack with a dive over the line, but the referee penalized the Eagles for double movement. The Eagles recovered a few minutes later and Phil Thiel rewarded his front row mates with a try. Niua’s conversion was successful to bring the Eagles within six for a 19-13 halftime score.

Berchesi opened the second half with his fourth penalty to extend Uruguay’s lead to 22-13. The Eagles had a lineout at midfield in the 48th minute, which Hayden Smith won to get his team on the attack. Samu Manoa broke through the gain line and dashed to the try zone untouched to close the gap at 22-20 after Niua’s conversion.

The Eagles put in a few more drives and Niua fed Chris Wyles on the wing for the Saracens man to cut through the Uruguay defense for a third try. Niua again converted to give the Eagles a 27-22 second-half lead.

Luke Hume nearly added the Eagles’ fourth try four minutes later but was taken into touch as he dove over the try line in the corner.

Both teams traded lengthy spells of possession for the next 10 minutes, with Uruguay getting close in the 72nd minute. After a few scrums, Nick Wallace was sent to the sin bin for multiple infractions. Kyle Sumsion was replaced by Titi Lamositele as a front row replacement for the scrums, but the Eagles had to play the remainder of the match at 14 men.

Uruguay quickly moved the ball from the ensuing scrum and touched down in the corner. The referee asked for the try to be reviewed and the TMO confirmed the score. Berchesi could not replicate his tough-angled, first-half conversion, however. Instead of Uruguay taking a late lead, the match was leveled at 27-27.

The Eagles had the final opportunity to earn a win, but the referee signaled for full time while Hume had the ball.

An improved second-half performance gives the Eagles a good reference point headed into the second leg March 29 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University.

“In the second half we did more often what we wanted to do, and we did it efficiently,” Head Coach Mike Tolkin said following the match. “First half also we have away a lot of penalties.

“We’ll look at the film and see where they were. Some of them were just poor decisions when people should stay out of it. Second half wasn’t as bad in terms of having bad penalties.”

Tolkin also said there were no injury troubles from the match.

The Eagles will have to win the second leg in Atlanta to qualify for the IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 England. With a loss, the Eagles will have to go through the Repechage playoff.

Watch the Eagles on Universal Sports next weekend at 3:30 P.M. ET and follow live match updates on Twitter with @USARugby.


Men's Eagles | v Uruguay
1. Olive Kilifi
2. Phil Thiel
3. Eric Fry
4. Hayden Smith
5. Samu Manoa
6. Todd Clever (C)
7. Scott LaValla
8. Cam Dolan
9. Mike Petri
10. Toby L'Estrange
11. Tim Maupin
12. Andrew Suniula
13. Folau Niua
14. Blaine Scully
15. Chris Wyles

Men's Eagles | Reserves
16. Tom Coolican
17. Nick Wallace
18. Titi Lamositele
19. Louis Stanfill
20. Kyle Sumsion
21. Shalom Suniula
22. Seamus Kelly
23. Luke Hume

Men's Eagles | 27
Tries: Thiel, Manoa, Wyles
Conversions: Niua (3)
Penalties: Niua (2)

Men's Eagles | Coaching Staff
Mike Tolkin - Head Coach
Billy Millard - Assistant Coach
Justin Fitzpatrick - Assistant Coach
Phil Bailey - Assistant Coach
Dave Williams - Strength & Conditioning Coach
Chris O'Brien - Kicking Coach
James Walton - Video Analyst
Jeff Mjaanes - Doctor
Richard Quincy, Jr. - Physio
Zach Vyhananek - Physio
Sarah Sall - Massage Therapist
Tristan Lewis - Manager

Uruguay
1. Aleja Corral
2. Arturo Avalo (C)
3. Oscar Duran
4. Mathias Palomeque
5. Santiago Vilaseca
6. Juan Manuel Gaminara
7. Diego Magno
8. Alejandro Nieto
9. Agustin Ormaechea
10. Felipe Berchesi
11. Jeronimo Etcheverry
12. Andrew Vilaseca
13. Joaquin Prada
14. Leandro Leivas
15. Gaston Mieres

Uruguay | Reserves
16. Nicolas Klappenbach
17. Rodolfo de Mula
18. Mario Sagario Cagnani
19. Cristofer Soares de Lima
20. Franco Lammana
21. Juan de Freitas Turcatti
22. Alejo Duran
23. Francisco Bulanti

Uruguay | 27
Tries: Ormaechea, Prada
Conversions: Berchesi
Penalties: Berchesi (5)

Men's Eagles | v Uruguay
Saturday, March 29 - 3:30 P.M. ET - Marietta, Ga.

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Comments (28)

  • Guest (5Lock4ward)

    If only we had a winger with game breaking speed. One who could score on the level of perhaps a "Try of the World Cup." Maybe he would've been born in Africa, and would have been the fastest man in world rugby. Perhaps he would play professionally in France and be good enough to play for the Barbarians. Maybe an announcer would say he looks like Carl Lewis. Maybe he'd have a friend who grew up in New Zealand and played Super Rugby for the best team in that competition. And maybe this friend would have an American mother and he'd be willing to play on the other wing. Oh wait, we have those guys and for some reason the upper management of USA Rugby is such a joke and a shambles that we cannot attract a decent coach and keep players of that caliber in the fold. While we're at it maybe we should never let Eric Fry play tight-head prop again and perhaps Clever should go back to 7 where he belongs so that Lavalla can play 6 where he belongs. Maybe Cam Dolan takes a seat for a while and we put Manoa at 8 where he belongs, bring in a real #4 like Harriman and slide our Aussie tight end over to #5. Maybe Wyles wears a 13 and Scully goes back to 15 and we bring in those wings I was talking about earlier. Just sayin'.

  • Guest (USA Fan)

    In reply to: Guest (5Lock4ward)

    I agree with you on Fry. He was owned late in that game. Frustrated that the URU Tight Head was on the arm pulling down the scrum from the first three collapsed scrums to the last few that landed our LH in the bin. Between a week TH in Fry, a URU TH that was pulling down, and a referee that seemed to have other priorities, the Eagles needed a strong captain to advocate for their scrum. The ref was way too pedantic on his TKL PKs, and way too loose with his scrum management. Poor combo.

    I disagree about the wings. I like what we are trying. That "Try of the World cup" was many moons ago and he has been ineffective ever since. In this match vs URU, we made things happen most times we got the ball out wide. Wyles was a good input when he stepped up, and Suniula was decent as well. We should keep that up.

    Finally, give Manoa that ball out with the backs more often... Wow!

  • Guest (The Observer)

    In reply to: Guest (5Lock4ward)

    If you think Smith played well and Dolan didn't, you're a worse judge of talent than Tolkin was when he picked the team. Smith looked like he put on about 20 pounds to play in the NFL and hasn't lost it. And if the wider problem Saturday was American players with big reputations playing at half speed, Ngwenya would have been right at home. Every time he plays for the Eagles he looks like he's most concerned about making sure he doesn't get hurt and compromise his Biarritz pay check. Fitting that you reference the Carl Lewis comment from RWC 2007, since he's done nothing of note in an Eagles jersey before or since.

  • Guest (The Observer)

    In reply to: Guest (5Lock4ward)

    If you think Smith played well and Dolan didn't, you're a worse judge of talent than Tolkin was when he picked the team. Smith looked like he put on about 20 pounds to play in the NFL and hasn't lost it. And if the wider problem Saturday was American players with big reputations playing at half speed, Ngwenya would have been right at home. Every time he plays for the Eagles he looks like he's most concerned about making sure he doesn't get hurt and compromise his Biarritz pay check. Fitting that you reference the Carl Lewis comment from RWC 2007, since he's done nothing of note in an Eagles jersey before or since.

  • Guest (5Lock4ward)

    In reply to: Guest (The Observer)

    I'm not saying Smith played well. In fact it disgusts me me that after turning his back on rugby and getting minimal minutes for Saracens since his return that the Eagles would roll a red carpet out for him right back into the first XV. The point I was attempting to make and was clearer about in my second comment further down is that Manoa is too good a ball handler to be tied up in the tight 5 during a scrum. Dolan being on the bench for me would be done only to facilitate Manoa playing at 8 so he could have a greater impact on offense. As for Ngwenya and Paterson (who everyone keeps forgetting about) I'd prefer to have two guys on the wing who play in major professional competitions over Luke Hume who defends like a vacated toll booth. Fine, Ngwenya hasn't done much in an Eagles jersey since. Well the Eagles, much like Biarritz as of recently, fail to deliver a solid enough platform from the pack and have crap centers, so what would you expect him to be able to deliver under those circumstances as a wing?

  • Guest (5Lock4ward)

    In reply to: Guest (The Observer)

    Another point on Smith; it's easy to say sit him down for now until he gets back in rugby shape but Tolkin left Harriman and Cullen out completely, Brian Doyle is apparently still coming back from injury and in my opinion Stanfill is a blind-side flanker not a lock. So who do you put in at 4 and 5 if we agree that Manoa needs to be at 8 to improve our attack?

  • Guest (The Observer)

    In reply to: Guest (5Lock4ward)

    I hear what you're saying about Dolan's versatility as a bench option and agree that Samu probably looks best for us at 8. Dolan busted his a** big time on Saturday though, one of few Eagle forwards to do so, and I think he earned his place in the XV.

    The prop situation is dire and there's not a whole lot we can do there but Smith needs to sit and be taught a lesson. He had his arms up over his head trying to catch his breath ten minutes into the game. The Uruguayan tighthead with a belly like Rob Ford showed better match fitness. I guess I would like to see Tuisamoa-Manoa just to send a message out. Tolkin needs to swallow his pride and admit he got that one wrong.

    Hume's not a good defender but he's a creator on offense and his pluses outweigh his negatives IMO.

  • Guest (5Lock4ward)

    In reply to: Guest (The Observer)

    I am embarrassed to admit that I forgot about Tuisamoa. I don't think anyone would be surprised to see Smith benched. I think we'd agree that his lack of match fitness means he should be training with them but not in the match-day 23 for now. Manoa scores equally from lock or loose-forward for the Saints so for that reason I think we'll continue to see him as a lock for the Eagles. Either way, regardless of who is at 8 (and for clarity I'm a Dolan fan, I was at his MOTM performance against the Maori) until we get the front row sorted out nobody will be making game breaking plays off the back of the scrum. On that we clearly agree.

  • Guest (Rugby Wrap Up)

    In reply to: Guest (5Lock4ward)

    Just watched the match again and can't believe the mess that the first half was... The Eagles were guilty of the most basic and fundamental mistakes. Clever's obstruction on the restart, Suniula's choices with the ball, Petri stepping out of bounds trying to go short side without being touched... With the comedy of errors that Uruguay were in handling kicks, a disciplined and conservative Team USA should have had a 15-point lead at the half... regardless of the ref.

  • Guest (Rugby Wrap Up)

    In reply to: Guest (5Lock4ward)

    Have to disagree with you on Ngwenya. Biarritz is being relegated and he's not the player he was in 2007 and isn't exactly kicking down doors for the chance to represent the USA lately. Wyles is at his best at 15 with Saracens and Scully is a load at the wing. Their positions aren't the issue. 3 and 12 were the numbers that struggled the most and the lack of discipline was the biggest foe.

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