After a shaky start the USA Men's 15s team blew open the test match with Russia with an entertaining, try-filled 62-13 victory at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Denver, CO.
Led by a powerful forward effort with two tries from hooker Joe Taufete'e, the Eagles rebounded from giving up an early try, and opened the game up to produce two tries for wing Marcel Brache and five overall from the backline.
Russia Scores Early
The Russians got a dream start after AJ MacGinty was penalized for hitting a Russian player in the air. It was accidental, but certainly a penalty, and the Bears took the lineout, ran some phases, and a nifty inside pass from flyhalf Yuri Kushnarev put wing Mikhail Babaev through for a try and a 7-0 Russia lead.
Both teams tried to play with some adventure, but the USA were pushing the pace a bit more. They made some errors, but eventually got into the Russian 22 thanks to a hard-charging run from Paul Lasike, who cast aside bodies like Ajax wading through the Trojan army. Lasike looked for support but didn’t really need it. Eventually he linked with Marcel Brache and Bryce Campbell. After the forwards consolidated, hooker Joe Taufete’e bulled over with help from his mates.
Another silly penalty, this time a high tackle, gave Russia a chance for a penalty and flyhalf Yuri Kushnarev had no problem and Russia led 10-5.
USA Takes The Lead, And Control
The key period for the USA was the second half of the first half. USA head coach Gary Gold’s decision to meet power with power started to pay off as Samu Manoa got the Eagles going forward and eventually Eric Fry pushed John Quill through for a second USA try. Then Taufete'e and Lasike changes roles, with the hooker making the break and the center reaching over from in close.
Taufete'e powered over for his second after a superb counter from scrumhalf Shaun Davies. And then Brache - in his first game since being injured at the start of the Americas Rugby Championship in February - beat eight players on anouther kick counter to put the game away 34-13 at the break.
The second half offered the Eagles a chance to run on some subs, and open the game up a little more. Brache scored a superb kick-and-chase, and then Nate Augspurger capped off a team try of some serious quality.
The game was won and lost in the forwards. Russia tried to intimidate the Eagles physically, and failed. While referee Federico Anselmi let some borderline high tackles go, the USA players shrugged those off and kept playing.
The forwards, meanwhile, settled down after that Russian try and did the job. However, Gold wasn't that impressed with the forward effort.
"We didn't hit our goals," said Gold. "One of the things that we tried to do today was be a little bit more physical in the tackle and slow their ball down and I think, particularly in the first half, they got a lot of quick ball."
But, Gold added, holing Russia to 13 points was a positive.
"But we wanted to really work hard on our tackle technique ... and we didn't do that," he said.
"The try woke us up," added captain Blaine Scully. "And we had to wake up. It was a sluggish start and thankfully we were able to flip the switch, and we know we're probably not going to get that opportunity next week."
Tries: Taufete’e 2, Lasike, Quill, Brache 2, Augsburger, Dolan, Scully
Convs: MacGinty 4 Magie 3
Pens: Kushnarev 2
1. Eric Fry Prop Vannes Rugby (FRA) 2. Joe Taufete'e Hooker Worcester Warriors (ENG) 3. Paul Mullen* Prop Houston SaberCats 4. Samu Manoa Lock Toulon (FRA) 5. Nick Civetta Lock Newcastle Falcons (ENG) 6. John Quill Flanker Glendale Raptors 7. Hanco Germishuys Flanker Austin Elite 8. Cam Dolan No. 8 San Diego Legion 9. Shaun Davies Scrum Half Glendale Raptors 10. AJ MacGinty Fly Half Sale Sharks (ENG) 11. Marcel Brache Wing Perth/Western Force (AUS) 12. Paul Lasike Center Utah Warriors 13. Bryce Campbell Center Glendale Raptors 14. Blaine Scully (C) Wing Cardiff Blues 15. Will Hooley Full Back Bedford Blues (ENG)
Reserves: 16. James Hilterbrand Reserve Manly Marlins (AUS) 17. Olive Kilifi Reserve Seattle Seawolves 18. Chris Baumann Reserve Leicester Tigers (ENG) 19. Greg Peterson Reserve Glasgow Warriors 20. Ben Landry Reserve Glendale Raptors 21. Nate Augspurger Reserve San Diego Legion 22. Will Magie Reserve Glendale Raptors 23. Dylan Audsley Reserve San Diego Legion MEN'S EAGLES STAFF
1. Valery Morozov (Yenisei-STM), 2. Stanislav Selskiy (Yenisei-STM), 3. Evgeny Pronenko (Yenisei-STM), 4. Bogdan Fedotko (Red Yar), 5. Evgeny Elgin (Yenisei-STM), 6. Nikita Vavilin (Slava Moscow), 7. Tagir Gadzhiev (Kuban), 8. Anton Rudoy (Yenisei-STM), 9. Konstantin Uzunov (Yenisei-STM), 10. Yuri Kushnarev (Yenisei-STM), 11. Alexey Mikhaltsov (Yenisei-STM), 12. Sergey Trishin (VVA Saracens), 13. Dmitry Gerasimov (Yenisei-STM), 14. Mikhail Babaev (VVA Saracens), 15. Vasily Artemyev (Krasny Yar) (C)
Reserves: 16. Yevgeny Matveyev (VVA Saracens), 17. Sergey Sekisov (VVA Saracens), 18. Anton Drozdov (VVA Saracens), 19. Andrei Garbuzov (Krasny Yar), 20. Dmitry Krotov (Yenisei-STM), 21. Vasily Dorofeev (Krasny Yar), 22. Cyril Golosnitsky (Krasny Yar), 23. Alexander Budychenko (Yenisei-STM)