Saracens Down Eagles 20-6
LONDON – The USA Eagles played a tight game defensively in a very wet and windy encounter with Saracens at the Honorable Artillery Company ground. After being tied at halftime, the Eagles ended up on the losing end of a score line that perhaps didn’t do justice to how close the match really was.
The USA displayed a strong defensive effort throughout the entire game and held Saracens to only two penalties in the first half. American flyhalf, Nese Malifa, slotted two penalties in the 7th and 38th minutes to bring the scores level going into the locker room at halftime.
Saracens struck early in the second half as Don Barrell crossed the try line and Owen Farrell converted to take a 13-6 lead over the Eagles. With the penalty count heavily in Saracens favor, the Eagles didn’t have much possession in the second half. Wet and windy conditions didn’t help the American cause either as Saracens pinned the Eagles in their half for much of the game.
Eagles Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan brought on some fresh legs in the second forty. After 15 minutes of the second half, Samu Manoa was replaced by Louis Stanfill who filled at second row, demonstrating his forwards virtuosity as he typically plays in the loose forwards. A change at pivot came in the 62nd minute when Tai Enosa came on for Nese Malifa. Mate Moeakiola took over at loosehead prop for Eagle veteran Mike MacDonald in the 74th minute.
James Short scored for Saracens in the last play of the game, which was converted by Farrell bringing the fulltime score to 20-6.
Brothers Alipate and Seta Tulievuka played well in the centers, but space closed quickly and attacking opportunities were few and far between.
“I’m happy with the performance, especially considering the level of experience on the field,” said Eagles Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan. “We did a lot of defending and didn’t have many attacking opportunities.” O’Sullivan also noted that the Eagles’ set-piece went well, a promising sign for the remainder of the Tour.
The American team that faced Saracens, one of the top teams in the Aviva Premiership, consisted mostly of non-professional players based in the USA. For those players, the opportunity to get experience at the professional level is crucial to their development moving towards the Rugby World Cup in 2011.
Many of the overseas-based professional Eagles were being rested for this match as many of them played for their pro teams last weekend. When the Eagles square off with Portugal on Saturday, there will likely be a different-looking Eagles outfit as the pros will pepper the starting lineup more heavily. Regular starters Takudzwa Ngwenya, Kevin Swiryn, John van der Giessen, Shawn Pittman, Chris Wyles, and Hayden Smith will be available for the Portugal test match.
The Eagles take on Portugal on Saturday November 13 at University Stadium in Lisbon. Kickoff for that match is 10:00 a.m. EST.
To view the November Tour schedule, click here.
For match results and updates, visit http://www.usarugby.org and follow USA Rugby on Facebook and Twitter (@usaeaglesrugby).
USA Eagles: Penalties: Malifa (7’), (38’)
1 Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie), 2 Chris Biller (San Francisco Golden Gate), 3 Eric Fry (Unattached), 4 Scott Lavalla (Dublin University), 5 Samu Manoa (San Francisco Golden Gate), 6 JJ Gaganio (Eastern Province), 7 Inaki Basauri (L’aquila), 8 Nic Johnson* (Denver Barbarians), 9 Mike Petri (Sale), 10 Nese Malifa (Glendale), 11 Zachary Test (Loughborough University), 12 Alipate Tulievuka (Old Puget Sound Beach), 13 Setareki Tulievuka (Montpellier), 14 Paul Emerick (Ulster), 15 Colin Hawley (Unattached)
Reserves: 16 Phil Thiel (Life University), 17 Mate Moeakiola (Bobigny 93), 18 Louis Stanfill (Mogliano), 19 Todd Clever (Suntory), 20 Tim Usasz (Nottingham), 21 Tai Enosa (Belmont Shore), 22 Andrew Suniula (Chicago Griffins)
* Denotes captain
Substitutions: Stanfill on for Manoa (55’), Enosa on for Malifa (62’), Moeakiola on for MacDonald (74’)
Unavailable for selection: Takudzwa Ngwenya (Biarritz), Shawn Pittman (London Welsh), Hayden Smith (Saracens), Chris Wyles (Saracens), John van der Giessen (Bath)
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