Simple mistakes hurt Eagles in 9-27 loss

Simple mistakes hurt Eagles in 9-27 loss

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Men’s Eagles fell to Canada 9-27 in front of 5,258 fans at Charleston’s Blackbaud Stadium Saturday. The Eagles will need a big win in the second leg in Toronto next weekend if they are to ensure qualification for the 2015 Rugby World Cup England.

The perfect start came from Canada in the first minute of the match, as Phil Mack chased his own chip kick into the try zone and dove on it to give the visitors the lead. Though the play was seen a second time by the referee, he awarded the try and James Pritchard converted from the touchline.

Down by seven with another 78 minutes on the clock, the Eagles started to get to work. A few minutes of possession resulted in a Canadian penalty, and Chris Wyles had an opportunity to put the Eagles on the board. From 45 meters, however, Wyles’ kick was just short, keeping the score at 0-7.

The Eagles committed a penalty in the 14th minute and paid for it as Pritchard successfully kicked the penalty goal to extend the Maple Leafs’ lead to 0-10.

After 18 minutes, the Eagles had committed four penalties to Canada’s two, indicative of the way the game was going for the home side. Taku Ngwenya chased his own clearance kick in the 22nd minute and was able to put pressure on the Canadian backs, but the return clearance kick bounced awkwardly for Toby L’Estrange. L’Estrange was tackled with no support around him and turned over possession, but Scott LaValla pushed an attacker into touch to get a lineout.

The Eagles were awarded another penalty in the 22nd minute after a Canadian’s high tackle on Blaine Scully. Wyles hit one of the uprights from 25 yards, prolonging the Eagles’ scoring drought in the match.

Mack seemed to score his second try of the match in the 25th minute, but the referee called the play back for obstruction.

Wyles caught a Canadian clearance kick in the 30th minute and made a nice 20-meter run past a few defenders, but should have offloaded it to the wing before he was tackled. The Eagles committed a knock a phase later.

Pritchard kicked his second penalty goal of the match in the 37th minute, sending the teams into halftime with the Eagles down 0-13.

It took three minutes into the second half for Wyles open the Eagles’ scoring account with a 25-meter penalty goal. Canada responded minutes later with a try from Harry Jones. A run from Mack put the Maple Leafs on the try line and Jones finished the sequence with a strong run across the line. Pritchard converted for a 20-3 Canada lead.

Wyles converted his second penalty kick in the 60th minute and Canada again responded with a try. Ciaran Hearn received a nifty switch pass 15 meters out and was not held after being knocked to the ground. DTH van der Merwe got the ball and walked between two defenders into the try zone for five points, with Pritchard adding the extra two for a 27-6 lead.

Folau Niua looked like he was starring in the IRB HSBC Sevens World Series after he entered the match, dummying past the Canadian defenders and running half of the length of the field before passing off to Titi Lamositele. Lamositele earned his first cap with his substitution and became the youngest Eagle to enter a test. The Eagles were awarded a penalty after a few more phases and elected to go for points.

While the game might have been out of their hands with four minutes remaining, they had a second leg to look forward to in Toronto. Wyles converted the penalty goal and the Eagles were humbled 9-27 in front of a sell-out crowd at Blackbaud Stadium.

“You let them score 25 seconds into the game, you’re starting off on the wrong foot,” Eagles Head Coach Mike Tolkin said. “We didn’t get our attack going, we were playing in the wrong end of the field, we didn’t get our momentum going early enough – so we wound up playing catch-up ball.”

“Obviously we feel pretty dejected,” Wyles said. “Canada were more clinical in the important areas and fed off of our mistakes. They do that often, so fair play to Canada.

“We’ve got to take a good, hard look at ourselves. We’ve got to dig real deep and pull together. We’re all pretty proud characters and we’re going to be putting in everything we have into this next game. That’s for sure.”

The Eagles will travel to Toronto for the second leg of the Rugby World Cup Qualifier against Canada and will need to win by at least 19 points to gain the Americas 1 position in 2015. Watch the Eagles from BMO Field on Universal Sports Saturday, August 24, at 4:00 P.M. ET.

Men’s Eagles | vs. Canada
1. Shawn Pittman
2. Chris Biller
3. Eric Fry
4. Louis Stanfill
5. Samu Manoa
6. Scott LaValla
7. Peter Dahl
8. Todd Clever (C)
9. Mike Petri
10. Toby L'Estrange
11. Blaine Scully
12. Andrew Suniula
13. Seamus Kelly
14. Takudzwa Ngwenya
15. Chris Wyles

Men's Eagles | Reserves
16. Zachary Fenoglio
17. Titi Lamositele
18. Phil Thiel
19. Brian Doyle
20. Cameron Dolan
21. Robbie Shaw
22. Folau Niua
23. Roland Suniula

Men's Eagles | 9
Penalties: Wyles (3)

Canada | 27
Tries: Mack, Jones, van der Merwe
Conversions: Pritchard (3)
Penalties: Pritchard (2)

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Comments (61)

  • Guest - Lucassie

    Just a canadian here to make a couple points. They stem from our coach and him not necessarily being better, but; 1) he preaches a philosophy and approach to every position (and the team)of professionalism; 2) he shows as many players as he can what he means by getting them professional rugby jobs, which is invaluable in any sport when it comes to being able to play ones best.

  • Guest - Robert Howley

    In response to Billy Boy. I never played rugby for Xavier but I did play in HS. I find it offensive that someone who has never spoken to a USA Eagle can make a statement about the players respect/lack of respect for their coach and more importantly their lack of effort. As someone who likes evidence based statements I find that ignorant. I also think your statement about getting out of Tolkin and Petir's jock is highly offensive and a cheap shot. The statement about Petri following daddy Tolkin is also offensive. I have bigger issues to concern myself with than USA Eagle Rugby rugby but some people make unsubstantiated statements which in my business would cost you your career. Japan has a lot more money in their rugby program and more players than the USA and they area smaller country. Canada seems to be British Colombia based. We will see more this weekend Good detective work Billie. Why don't you take the NYPD test?

  • Guest - Bill

    In reply to: Guest - Robert Howley

    Mr. Howley: Look back at the posts. Never once did I say anything about a players lack of respect for Mike Tolkin nor have I ever said anything about their lack of effort. My comments were based on the lack of USA Rugby supporter faith in Tolkin's ability to lead the Eagles squad at an international-level. Based on the overwhelming opinion voiced by the USA Rugby supporters here, I think that amounts to what you call an "evidence-based statement". I can agree that calling you out for sitting on Tolkin's and Petri's jock was offensive, but you were also the one calling commenters "idiots" and "ignorant" for their opinions, grammar, rants and hidden agendas. Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black? You sir are guilty of all the same offenses.

    I'll contend while Japan may have more money in their rugby program because they now have a professional league, I will still argue they have nowhere near the number of players as the U.S. Didn't you say we have over one million players within the U.S.? What difference does Canada's BC basing have to do with this discussion? They are a better team, not because of money or number of players, but because their program and coaching is at a higher level. This "evidence-based statement" is based in their jump in the IRB rankings due to their trouncing of the Eagles over the weekend.

    As for the NYPD test...sorry, but I have a strict policy against "stop and frisk" based on racial profiling. All kidding aside, the NYPD is a great organization. However, I feel if I were to move to NYC I may fall victim to the ideology that the U.S. revolves around NYC.

    I hope Tolkin and the Eagles can pull off an aggregate victory over Canada this weekend, but the skeptic in me believes we will be playing Uruguay next year.

  • Guest - Steve Braunstein

    I don't know whether to suggest this article be placed in the fiction part of the library or just given an incomplete for the incredible lack of completeness.

    Unlike some others I am willing to attach my name to these comments because I feel so strongly in my love of the game and the USA and I have confidence that the powers in charge also reflect those feelings.

    My requests.

    1) Please learn to tackle at or below the belly button. Not being able to tackle when we are the only country in the world where tackle football is the most popular sport is just embarrasssing. Not to mention it helps stops the other team from scoring and offloads at pace.
    2) Quit kicking away possession! I lost count off how many times we gave away the ball when my TI-82 ran out of decimal places. 90% of the time there were better options. And I spent my career as a back who believes in kicking.
    3) Play the pitch you are on. Flat offense only works when you have the width of the field to do it on. You can't run the proper angles on a postage stamp. And that venue was tiny not to mention a poor pick to begin with.
    4) Someone, anyone, please take a ball going foward instead of at a dead standstill. We were constantly hit 5 meters behind the gain line.
    5) To keep this short I'll make this the last one. Please play the youngsters. When Cam and Tito came in at least they looked like they wanted to play. Bringing a sense of urgency and a nice work rate. Everyone else looked dead legged. And he might have kicked my tail but if I was on the pitch and saw Clever smiling and laughing down by 21 with 20 minutes to go I would have slapped him silly. That might be okay when you are getting paid to play overseas but when you represent your country have a bit of pride mate! That was the most I have ever paid to see a USA match. I won't pay for another until the players care as much as I do about the outcome of the match.

    Sincerely a fan but a disappointed one,
    Steve Braunstein

  • Guest - Mark

    In reply to: Guest - Steve Braunstein

    Your point 3 is dead on. I don't understand why USA rugby has this urge to piss away actual home field advantage that we have in Glendale, Colorodo. It's a great pitch, the team trains there when they plan on playing in Glendale and the elevation is a real advantage. Additionaly there is something to be said for constantly playing on the same home pitch.

  • Guest - Steve Roper

    In reply to: Guest - Steve Braunstein

    Well said, being a kiwi I simply cannot understand the lack of ability of defense, knowing you are going to be playing with approx. 30-40% possession means you had better keep the pill in hand when you have it and you sure as hell better be good at tackling and turning over the ball. My bet defense on this team is rarely practiced! Also agree with you about Clever, smiling when you are losing is bullshit you should be pissed off and nasty. Maoris by 60.

  • Guest - Rugby Sage

    Tolkin's job is safe until after the fall internationals and then USA Rugby may be in a position to replace him at the start of the new year. In the meantime we need to right the amatuer mistakes Tolkin made from the get go. Bringing in his long time buddy Tony Smeeth as the attack coach and fellow Irishman Derek Dowling as scrum coach. He followed up that error with bringing in kicking coach Chris O'Brien to the staff. The day after this weeks match against Canada Nigel needs to get Tolkin to fire these three guys and replace them. Nigel doesn't need to replace them with permanent appointees, but rather he could bring in some mercenaries for the fall internationals. If the players respond well to them and there is improvement, they could see themselves as the new head coach or get the assistant job they came in for through 2015 RWC. There are a lot of quality rugby coaches in the world that want to cut their teeth at the international level and would love to be on a staff for a RWC. Finding them shouldn't be a problem.

  • Guest - Bill

    In reply to: Guest - Rugby Sage

    Unfortunately, I agree that Tolkin is safe for the time being. However, I would contend that bringing in "mercenaries" on a temporary nature may do more harm than good. Tolkin would obviously see these guys as undermining his authority, they would hold no loyalty toward him, and Tolkin would potentially see one of them as a threat to his job as head coach. I would hope that Tolkin is bigger than that, and find no reason to suggest otherwise, but this creates a lot of animosity and discontent in an already struggling coaching staff. As commented before, I believe we need to gut the entire staff and have a wholesale turnover.

    While many struggle with the concept of hiring foreign coaches, I do not think we have the depth of coaching here in the U.S. Unfortunately, it may be some time before we do. While we will always need to contend with the mercenary mentality, it is up to Nigel Melville to weed that out and ensure hiring is based on experience and a coaching philosophy that mirrors USA Rugby's long-term strategy

  • Guest - AIGone

    in November when the Maori side tears into the Eagles and runs up the score to something truly embarrassing do you think AIG is going to say bye bye to sponsoring USA Rugby?

  • Guest - Robert Howley

    I saw the box kicks by Petri. He missed one but honestly trying to get a good bounce to our wingers was very close to working and was probably not a bad choice, The African winger almost came up with a few. It is hard to look at a game broadcast on NBC Universal and see much. I could not see who hard the Canadian back line came up but you guys must have seen that. You are all rugby geniuses I am sure. As per Ricky and Billy, please do not make comments about my sexuality I have been married for 28 yeas and have a daughter with severe autism. You idiots could never fill my shoes. I am 57 and I could dust you ass in touch rugby. Really I could so let me know where you have a legal residence, You must be right wing haters! A double meaning of course but I wonder. The comments about my sexuality where not unnoticed, As they say " be careful what you say" Think before you speak. It will serve you well in life..

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