The Men’s Eagles kicked off their Rugby World Cup year as strong as expected this afternoon in Santiago with a dominant 71-8 victory over Chile in round one of the 2019 Americas Rugby Championship. A hat trick from retuning AJ McGinty led a flurry of tries in what was a United States owned match of possession. In the end, an encouraging showing as the team now heads to Argentina for a grudge match with ARC rival Argentina XV, LIVE on FloRugby.
90º weather welcomed the Men’s Eagles to Santiago, but the real heat was in the United States offense early. Joe Taufete’e got things started with a try in the 2′, notching his career 15th and tying Keith Woods of Ireland for the most by a front row forward in test match history. Despite the early score, Taufete’e wouldn’t tally another, saving the record-breaking moment for a future fixture. By the sixth minute, McGinty followed suit with his first of three tries and the US was in first command, 12-0.
Though limited, there were a few flashes of threatening offense from the Chilean side, the first coming at the 9′ mark after a nice-looking box kick brought possession deep into the US end. Shaun Davies was able to clear out, but Chile earned another scrum and jumped back on the attack. A few series later the ball was knocking on the US door and Chile was awarded a penalty. Despite being only inches from the try line, the home team elected to kick and slotted in their first points from short range.
Paul Lasike answered in short order after great facilitating from Davies and offload from Captain, Marcel Brache. The powerful inside center kept inbounds on the left flank and jogged into the end zone for his first try of the year.
A few minutes later big Nick Civetta found a hole up the middle and dotted down. The Eagles continued to own possession as Davies earned a try, followed by #7 Hanco Germishuys just before the halftime whistle. Officially, the United States tallied a try from six different players in the first half alone. Teams left for the locker rooms with the Eagles up, 38-3.
Germishuys kept momentum after the break with a few broken tackles an run away sprint down the left flank. Brache was in chase and wide open for an offload but Hanco was a little late to pass and brought down in tackle. Coming out of the breakdown, McGinty tagged back in after what looked to be the most fluid ball movement of the afternoon from his teammates.
Chile’s physicality started to mount as they started to break through the US pressure, reserve Matias Dittus carried the ball hard through the goal line effort and reached over for their first try. Chile kept momentum after the restart, but it would fall short and fade through the end of the match. Knowing his team was in the driver’s seat, Brache urged at the second half water break, “Keep it at our tempo, simplicity wins this game.”
The remainder of the match played out in favor of the US as McGinty collected his third try completing the hat trick and newest Eagle, Tadhg Leader, produced his first career try. Having converted his own score, Leader earned his inaugural cap, try and conversion in a matter of minutes. Chile wasn’t looking to go quietly as they continued to play physical despite the lofty deficit on the scoreboard, however an at-the-whistle try from #8 Cam Dolan would seal the 71-8 victory for the United States.
In retrospect, the Men’s Eagles really spread the love around with 9 total players contributing points on the board. While the 71-8 score proves dominant, the United States heads into round two with a few improvements to focus on. “Overall really happy with our first start,” noted Head Coach Gary Gold post-match, “We did what we set out to do, and thought we were very effective, but I think we gave them a little too much momentum and can improve on our physicality in the collisions.”
Gold continued and looked ahead to Argentina, “A deserved victory over a young team, but we realize next week’s challenge is going to be significantly more difficult against an experienced Argentinian team.”
Up next the Men’s Eagles travel to Rio Negro to take on Argentina XV after a thrilling win over the squad to open the 2018 ARC. In what should be the most contested match up for the US, fans won’t want to miss a minute as the match is streamed LIVE on FloRugby at 3pmET, Saturday Feb. 9th.
USA MEN’S EAGLES STAFF
Head Coach | Gary Gold
Assistant Coach, Backs & Attack | Greg McWilliams
Assistant Coach, Forwards | Shawn Pittman
Strength & Conditioning Coach | Huw Bevan
Performance Analyst | Jimmy Harrison
Team Doctor | Mark Sakr (Chile, Argentina Uruguay, Canada)
Head Athletic Trainer | Kevin Ng
Assistant Athletic Trainer | Kristen Douhan
Team Manager | Chris Hanson
AMERICAS RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 2019 SCHEDULE
LIVE on FloRugby in the United States
Saturday, Feb. 2
vs Chile | 1 PM ET
Saturday, Feb 9
vs Argentina XV | 3 PM ET
Rio Negro, ARG
Saturday, Feb 23
vs Brazil | 7:10 PM CT
Dell Diamond, Austin, TX
Saturday, Mar 2
vs Uruguay | 7:10 PM PT
Starfire Sports, Seattle, WA
Friday, Mar 8
vs Canada | 7:10 PM PT
Starfire Sports, Seattle, WA