Georgia Edge Out Eagles in the Final Seconds
TBLISI, Georgia – In an absolute cracker of a match, the Eagles narrowly missed out on a sweep of their 2010 test matches. It was always going to be a physical and close encounter between the USA and hosts Georgia, but a last minute Georgian try pulled the home team ahead in the waning seconds of the match with a final score of 17-19.
Eagles Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan knew that the American defense proved it was solid and physical. In an all out tactical blitz, O’Sullivan’s Eagles kept the Georgians guessing in all aspects of the game, especially on attack.
A versatile group of loose forwards, Todd Clever, Inaki Basauri, and Louis Stanfill, popped around the scrums and lineouts, never letting the Georgians get a good read on the American set-piece. The American pack would keep the Georgians off-rhythm at line outs as well, were dictating pace in all aspects of forward play.
“We had a great team performance and everyone gave 110% and definitely put their bodies on the line. I’m very proud of how we played,” said O’Sullivan.
Paul Emerick opened the USA’s scoring and earned his 60th point in international rugby. Nese Malifa added six points in the first half by way of drop goal and penalty, bringing the Eagles ahead 11-6 after forty minutes.
Nese Malifa and Chris Wyles kept the USA ahead, with lead changes aplenty in the second half. The Eagles had a 17-12 lead over Georgia at the final hooter, but almost ten minutes of injury time gave Georgia time to mount an attack. The American defense held strong and weathered a Georgian onslaught and it appeared to be over when the home team knocked the ball on in the waning seconds. A scrum was called and the collective will of 35,000 raucous Georgian fans was aimed at the final set piece of the match. Georgia stole the American ball and scored in the final play. Georgia’s conversion hit the mark, sealing the victory for the home side with a final score of 19-17.
“We played a really good game of rugby,” said O’Sullivan. “It came right down to the wire and it really could have gone either way.”
The Eagles put on an undeniably physical and tenacious performance, and even though the result wasn’t a win, O’Sullivan’s side played gutsy game that was the best of their November Tour.
USA Tries: Emerick (26') Penalties: Malifa (X2) Drop Goals: Malifa (40') Wyles
1 Mate Moeakiola (Bobigny 93), 2 Phillip Thiel (Life University), 3 Shawn Pittman (London Welsh), 4 Samu Manoa (San Francisco Golden Gate), 5 Hayden Smith (Saracens), 6 Louis Stanfill (Mogliano), 7 Todd Clever* (Suntory), 8 Inaki Basauri (L’aquila), 9 Tim Usasz (Nottingham), 10 Nese Malifa (Glendale), 11 Kevin Swiryn (Agen), 12 Andrew Suniula (Chicago Griffins), 13 Paul Emerick (Ulster), 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 15 Chris Wyles (Saracens)
16 Chris Biller (San Francisco Golden Gate), 17 Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie), 18 Scott Lavalla (Dublin University), 19 Nic Johnson (Denver Barbarians), 20 Mike Petri (Sale), 21 Taivalu Enosa (Belmont Shore), 22 Setareki Tuilevuka (Montpelier)
Substitutions: MacDonald on for Moeakiola (54'), Johnson on for Basauri (60'), Biller on for Thiel (60'), Petri on for Usasz (78')
1 Goderdzi Shvelidze (Montpellier), 2 Akvsenti Giorgadze (Castres), 3 David Kubriashvili (Toulon), 4 Shalva Sutiashvili (Massy), 5 Levan Datunashvili (Figeaque), 6 Simon Maisuradze (Villeurban), 7 Giorgi Chkhaidze (Montpellier), 8 Beasrion Udesiani (Maccon), 9 Irakli Abuseridze* (Auxerre), 10 Lasha Malaguradze (Beziers), 11 Lekso Gugava (Lelo), 12 Tedo Zibzibadaze (Perigueux), 13 Irakli Chkivakdze (Aia), 14 Irakli Machkaneli (Maccon), 15 Basiki Khamashuridze (Aia)
16 Iuri Natriashvili (Farul Constanta), 17 David Zirakishvili (Clermont), 18 Viktor Kolelishvili (Lelo), 19 Giorgi Nesadze (Montauban), 20 Bidzina Samkharadze (Farul Constanta), 21 David Kacharava (Nice Cote d’Azur), 22 Merab Kvirikashvili (Figeaque)
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