Saturday, June 16, 2018

Eagles Soar, Raptors Roar


USA Eagles banked their greatest victory this century to maintain their 2018 unbeaten Test run with a thrilling, 30-29 win over Scotland at BBVA Compass Field in Houston last night. It was never pretty as each side showed a maddening capability to display the odd knock-on and both were guilty of behavior requiring penalties assessed by field magistrate Wayne Barnes, but at the end of the mighty fight, young wing Blair Kinghorn’s conversion attempt of Dougie Fife’s corner score well into extra time sailed wide the right post and USA would celebrate momentous this night.

Scotland got off on the rightest foot possible when fullback Stuart Hogg slapped off a tackle attempt and freed Kinghorn to cross for his own conversion and it was 7-nil for the Caledonians in the second minute.

Eagles error-prone and Scotland taking advantage when so offered, but big stops by hooker Joe Taufete’e and inside center Paul Lasike sufficient the task of employing and inciting throttling defense.

AJ MacGinty split the sticks from 22 meters out in the 16th minute and 7-3, yet for the Scots, then.
Kinghorn had a shot on goal fail prior to the 20-minute, weather-induced water break and everyone had a hydration bump as the hot and humid Houston evening descended.

The Horne brothers ripped a hole in a rear-legged Eagles defense as inside center Peter offloaded to scrumhalf George, whose progress to goal was illegally prevented by USA lock, Samu Manoa, to the extent that a penalty try was given and Manoa had a ten minute seat with tallies of 14 for the travelers and 3 for the home team at minute 25.

Though a man down, Eagles were able to close the deficit to eight with a second MacGinty sticksplitter and 14-6 after 28 minutes.

USA knock-ons and penalties were gifting Scotland with excellent territorial possessions and the Scots were accepting those windfalls with glee.

It was hooker George Turner for the corner after a won lineout ten meters out trundled forward to breakdown two meters shy of goal. With Kinghorn deadly on the lengthy, angled conversion it was 21-6 in favor visitors at ’37.

Eagles brought multiple phases inclose the Scots goal before Taufete’e snatched the pill off the deck and whirled into goal past his opposite number and over Peter Horne. MacGinty was good with the additional deuce and 21-13 in the 39th minute.

Kinghorn notched a penalty strike at time to conclude scoring at 24-13 for Scotland when Mr. Barnes signaled the half. Scotland making the gainline and winning the breakdown battle in the first forty; Eagles getting some bad breaks of fortune and then making their own badness at times. A sultry second stanza upcoming.

Eagles with a spring to their collective stride at the restart and the production machine that is Joe Taufete’e did his thing, touching down after a powerfully rambling rumble through the Scots business district, ten meters from goal. Plus two by MacGinty and 24-20 at minute number 45.
AJ drew the US within a point, cleaving the posts from 35 out at the interior hash, 24-23, now at ’49 and the BBVA was bellowing then.

Nothing on for the next ten minutes save for determined and sometimes desperate defense against pounding bashes following pick-and-go from breakdown, and the aerial bombards launched from both XV’s halfback corps.

It was at the hour mark when MacGinty pulled the winner out of his wizard’s cloak. Stabbing a kick forward that he raced ahead, fought for for and wrested from the defender, then passed to openside flanker Hanco Germishuys who finished, crossing and dotting down for MacGinty’s conversion and the Eagles had their first lead of the match at 30-24 after an hour’s play.

A sure Scotland try was judged to have been not touched in the 65th minute due the huge efforts of Shaun Davies and lock Ben Landry.

USA were defending well but the knock-on, when it reared its ugly mug, kept one’s heart in one’s throat as all in, allover right now.

Scotland were banging away at goal for a good four minutes extra time when Fife made five in the corner and it would come down to the accuracy of the conversion. And as that last, errant shot drifted wide its mark, so too did the number six-ranked team in the world’s hope for victory as USA Eagles held onto the 30-29 result with clenched claws.

                USA – Try: Taufete’e (2), Germishuys; Con: MacGinty (3); Pen: MacGinty (3);
                Scotland – Try: Kinghorn, Penalty, Turner, Fife; Con: Kinghorn (3); Pen: Kinghorn

Match Official: Wayne Barnes

Next Up, next week on Saturday, 7.23: Rugby Canada v USA Eagles at Halifax, Nova Scotia

Glendale v Seattle


While two-fifths of their brethren were in Texas helping the Eagles to historic victory, Raptors in Colorado were claiming the first Major League Rugby regular season title by defeating Seattle SeaWolves, 33-11, down the Kettle at Infinity. Glendale dug themselves somewhat of a hole, going down 0-11 by the 30th minute, but experience of stalwarts Max De Achaval and Zach Fenoglio, along with a brace of touch downs from returning center Chad London, made for a fundamentally sound and famous win.

Seattle blasted out of the gates full well knowing the outcome of the match would determine the league leader and also impact playoff seeding. SeaWolves went up 5-nil when Mozac Samson broke the line to touch down in the 11th minute.

The visitors were back for more as flyhalf Will Holder slotted a penalty for an 8-nil advantage in the 17th minute.

SeaWolves would score their final points of the match on a dropped goal by Holder and Seattle enjoyed an 11-0 lead at the 30th minute.

This was the point where Glendale could have fallen apart and Seattle run the table, but the calming influence of veteran flyhalf De Achaval and flanker Fenoglio kept that untoward event from occurring.

Raptors began their comeback with a try by London and a De Achaval conversion: 11-7 for Seattle at minute 36.

Fenoglio crossed just before time in the half to give his side a 12-11 lead; De Achaval’s conversion extended the margin to three at 14-11 as halftime whistle sounded.

Most of the fire and all of the scoring for Glendale in the second stanza as hosts counted 19 additional points without Seattle reply. Trys by: Mika Kruse (’44); London’s second made seven by De Achaval (’50); and a grounding by backrow Connor Cook (’52) with an added deuce by De Achaval for the record of 33-11, the bonus point, and the inaugural Major League Rugby regular season title.

                Glendale – Try: London (2), Fenoglio, Kruse, Cook ; Con: De Achaval (4);
                Seattle– Try: Samson; Con: Holder; DG: Holder


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