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Sunday, June 19, 2016

USA Eagles v Italy Azzurri

USA Eagles v Italy Azzurri
image: Tim Guerra


Italy were coming off a respectable loss to the Pumas in Argentina last weekend, while USA would face the Azzurri with head coach John Mitchell’s first-drawn squad. Temperatures in the low 70s for kickoff at Avaya Stadium in San Jose and both sides eager for the contest.
Bit of back-and-forth hoists early with each feeling the other out until Italy were pinged at breakdown and flyhalf for Guinness Pro12 champions Connacht, AJ MacGinty, nailed the initial points of the match with a sticksplitter and it was 3-nil for the home team in the 12th minute.
The Azzurri drew level with a penalty goal by the Italian 10, Carlo Canna, from 30 meters out in front of the posts, and everyone had three after 17 minutes of action.
An AJ MacGinty penalty boot to touch didn’t go there, but the Azzurri countering kick was gathered by fullback Will Holder and his swervy, deceptively fast return had the #15 in perfect position to feed support on either side. Desperation defense by Italy saw the pill swatted forward; field magistrate Marius Van der Westhuizen judged that action to be flagrant and awarded a penalty try, putting the sinner in the bin for a tenner, and MacGinty’s additional deuce made it 10-3 in the 21st minute.
A couple of poor, loopy passes to no one in particular hampered the Eagles, while the Italians bided their time, replying to the American territorial kicking strategy in kind.
An Azzurri penalty award inside the US 22 led to an Italian lineout well within the Eagles business district, the critical space 10 meters from goal.  Italy captured the toss, rolled the maul towards the line and Ornel Gega, the Italian #2, sniped across on the short side to touch down for a fiver in the corner and the Azzurri had drawn to within a couple at 10-8 while yet down a player after 31 minutes.
Canna put the travelers in front with a penalty as time ran out in the period and it was lads to lockers for hydration, instruction and a bit of a break at Van der Westhuizen’s midpoint signal.
Eagles looked fine through the first half of the first half, but their opponents ratcheted up the intensity at the breakdown, unsettling provision to the backline and staining American possession in the last 20 minutes.
Italy lengthened their lead with a penalty shot by Canna just after restart to make the scoreline 14-10 in favor visitors, but a MacGinty reply made it a single-point margin once again after ’50.
A scrum collapse by US gave Italy the penalty inclose and subsequent infringement at lineout produced a yellow ticket and reduced the US complement to 14 at minute 55. The Azzurri were swift to celebrate their advantage with a grounding completed by Canna and it was 21-13 at the 56th minute.
Shoddy, occasionally non-existent, kick-chasing by the US enabled Italian countering mischief and the Azzurri rush defense disrupted the Eagles offense considerably just then.
A try by replacement lock Tony Lamborn, converted by MacGinty, drew the Americans within a point yet again at 21-20, but a penalty goal struck by Canna proved to be the last numbers of the match and a result of 24-20 for Italy was recorded at Van der Westhuizen’s last blast.
Scoring
                United States - Try: Penalty, Lamborn; Con: MacGinty (2); Pen: MacGinty (2);
                Italy - Try: Gega (2); Con: Canna; Pen: Canna (4)

Match Official: Marius Van der Westhuizen

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