TBLISI, Georgia – The Men’s Eagles earned their first win in a year Saturday, 25-23 against Georgia, thanks to a last-second penalty kick from starting flyhalf Adam Siddall.
The Eagles continued on from their strong showing against the New Zealand Maori All Blacks last weekend in Philadelphia, though they did give up the first points. Merab Kvirikashvili kicked a penalty in the first five minutes before adding a try less than 10 minutes later in the corner. He converted for a 10-0 home team lead.
Men’s Eagles Sevens’ Folau Niua showed the speed which has made him successful on the IRB Sevens World Series Circuit following the try by chasing down a kick in Georgia territory and earned a lineout. The Eagles maintained the good field position and were eventually rewarded with a Chris Wyles try. Siddall missed the conversion attempt to make the score 10-5 in favor of Georgia.
The Eagles committed an infraction on the restart and Kvirikashvili punished them to make it 13-5 before missing another penalty goal attempt. Siddall put another three points on the board with a penalty goal of his own minutes later.
Wyles set in motion a great team play with a 50-meter run down the field, after which he found captain Todd Clever with an offload. Before going to ground, Clever passed to Blaine Scully, who ran around the last defender to dot down between the posts. The Eagles overtook Georgia after Siddall’s conversion made it 15-13.
Just as in Philadelphia last Saturday, the Eagles entered halftime with a lead.
Watch the first half
Young prop Nick Wallace was a standout performer in the 29-19 loss to the New Zealand Maori All Blacks with multiple runs and big hits. In the 55th minute, Wallace received a pass after a few phases in the Eagles’ attack and dummied a pass to Andrew Suniula, opening a hole in the Georgian defense for a 40-meter, try-scoring run. Siddall again kicked the extras for a 22-13 Eagles lead.
Scully failed to save a try minutes later when he tackled a Georgian player just short of the try line as Merab Sharikadze picked up the loose ball to score. Kvirikashvali kicked the conversion to draw Georgia within two points at 22-20.
The Eagles could not find the try zone again in the remaining minutes, undone by penalty trouble. Eventually, the penalty trouble ended up helping the Eagles, as the referee signaled for play to continue after Georgia kicked to touch after 80 minutes had gone.
The Eagles won their own lineout and moved up the field quickly, though they got closer to the touch line than head coach Mike Tolkin would have hoped. They earned a penalty over 40-meters out and Clever pointed to the sticks, indicating the Eagles would kick for points.
Watch the second half
Siddall, earning his first start at flyhalf for the Eagles, stepped up to kick from the difficult angle. He sent it through, giving the Eagles a dramatic, 25-23 win.
The Eagles had gone seven full tests without a win, dating back to Nov. 24 when they defeated Romania 34-3 in Bucharest. They will have one final opportunity to add another to the win column Sat., Nov 23, when they take on Russia at Allianz Park in London. Follow @USARugby on Twitter for updates.
Men's Eagles | v. Georgia
1. Nick Wallace
2. Phil Thiel
3. Shawn Pittman
4. Graham Harriman
5. Samu Manoa
6. Todd Clever(C)
7. Derek Asbun
8. Cameron Dolan
9. Mike Petri
10. Adam Siddal
11. Tim Maupin
12. Andrew Suniula
13. Folau Niua
14. Blaine Scully
15. Chris Wyles
Men's Eagles | 25
Tries: Wyles, Scully, Wallace
Conversions: Siddall (2)
Penalties: Siddall (2)
Georgia | 23
Tries: Kvirikashvili, Sharikadze
Converstions: Kvirikashvili (2)
Penalties: Kvirikashvili (3)