Hawaiian Express Rains On Canada Parade

The Pacific Northwest gets its wet weather in part from an air stream that comes from Hawaii, known often as the Pineapple Express, but a different Hawaiian Express raced through Vancouver Saturday night, as Martin Iosefo's late try gave the USA its only lead in a 20-15 defeat of Canada at BC Place.

In a very physical and decidedly imperfect game, the Eagles squandered several prime scoring opportunities, and Canada brought the grit and pride they will need to be successful at the World Cup.

Things started poorly for the Eagles after captain Blaine Scully took a high ball inside his own half. Only one forward was able to get back to help fullback Will Hooley win that ruck, and the Canadians swarmed in, won the ball, and scrumhalf Gordon McRorie scampered around the weak side for an early 7-0 lead for the hosts.

The Eagles pressured after that, and had a prime scoring opportunity with a lineout just a few meters from the Canadian tryline. But the resulting maul splintered, and Ben Landry was left alone in front of everyone, obstructing. Penalty to Canada, and pressure relieved.

Soon thereafter, Canada exerted their own pressure, punishing a series of penalties to get deep into the USA 22. From there, another penalty allowed flyhalf Peter Nelson-Dungannon to tap quickly and head for the corner. Only USA flanker John Quill was able to do anything. Quill appeared to tackle Nelson-Dungannon into touch, but additional review from referee Alex Ruiz resulted in a try called for Canada, and a 12-0 lead.

The Eagles got three back with a nicely-taken long-range kick from Will Magie, but the game became a stop-start slog for much of the rest of the first half.

Then, with time almost up in the first half, the Eagles got a scrum near the Canadian line. A massive shove from props Eric Fry and especially Titi Lamositele crushed the Canada pack, and it was a simple matter of picking up the ball and spinning out of a tackle for Cam Dolan to score the try.

Magie added the extras and the teams went into the locker rooms with Canada leading 12-10. Both teams showed the effects of the physicality, but Canada was suffering more, with several players having to take an early seat.

The second half started well for Canada, with Nelson-Dungannon whacking over a kick from almost 50 meters. That put his side ahead 15-10, but the Eagles almost got that back when flanker Hanco Germishuys charged down a box kick attempt. 

The ball was gathered by DTH van der Merwe, but Germishuys was able to shove the wing into touch, and from that lineout, the Eagles mauled it over, with hooker Dylan Fawsitt at the bottom of the pile.

That tied it up 15-15 with still 30 minutes to go. Moments later, a nifty run from Mike Te'o set up the Eagles and they were right back on the front foot. 

After a few forward surges near the line the backs got it, and a laser pass from Will Hooley set up Iosefo for what seemed to be the go-ahead try. But the pass was forward, and everyone came back for a penalty against Canada.

That penalty seemed like a good opportunity for a penalty kick attempt, but Scully opted for the scrum, and from there the Eagles were halted by some excellent Canada defense, and the game remained tied.

Again they bashed against each other. Canada started to get stronger in the scrum, but couldn't see to crack the USA forwards' maul defense. Canadian wing Jeff Hassler was used to crash through, but the Eagles defense held. but neither team was able to string enough elements together to look like scoring.

Then, a hero in an unlikely position. Paul Lasike, not know for his kicking boot, cleared nicely to get his side out of trouble. The resulting lineout was overthrown and Fawsitt took the ball ahead, followed then by Greg Peterson.

The Americans then were forced to kick, but the kick worked as the USA defense forced a dropped ball and that ball was quickly sent wide to Lasike, who heaved the ball wider to Iosefo. 

The sevens star still had work to do. He just steamrolled Matt Heaton and then outpaced the final Canada defender to go in at the corner. It was a fine moment for Iosefo and the USA had the lead, 20-15, with less than ten minutes to go.

It was a nailbiting ten minutes for both sets of fans, as scrum upon scrum saw the time tick away. Finally, with time up, Canada got a penalty, and took the lineout. Once again they mauled, and once again the USA defense was there. 

Phase after phase Canada kept trying to find some way through. The USA bench stepped up, with Malon Al-Jiboori getting involved several times. Finally, a nice gang tackle by Lasike and Marcel Brache, and the poach attempt by Fawsitt sealed the deal. Turnover good, ball playable, and referee Ruiz whistled the game.

It wasn't pretty, but it was gritty, and the USA had won again.

USA 20
Tries: Dolan, Fawsitt, Iosefo
Convs: Magie
Pens: Magie

Canada 15
Tries: McRorie, Nelson-Dungannon
Convs: Nelson-Dungannon

USA lineup vs Canada

1. Eric Fry; 2. Joe Taufete'e; 3. Titi Lamositele; 4. Ben Landry; 5. Greg Peterson; 6. HancoGermishuys; 7. John Quill; 8. Cam Dolan; 9. Nate Augspurger; 10. Will Magie; 11. Martin Iosefo; 12. Paul Lasike; 13. Marcel Brache; 14. Blaine Scully (C); 15. Will Hooley

16. Dylan Fawsitt; 17. Olive Kilifi; 18. Paul Mullen; 19. Nate Brakeley; 20. Malon Al-Jiboori; 21. Shaun Davies; 22. Bryce Campbell; 23. Mike Te'o

Canada lineup vs USA

1. Hubert Buydens; 2. Eric Howard; 3. Matthew Tierney; 4. Evan Olmstead; 5. Kyle Baillie; 6. Justin Blanchet; 7. Lucas Rumball; 8. Tyler Ardron (C); 9. Gordon McRorie; 10. Peter Nelson- Dungannon; 11. DTH van der Merwe; 12. Ciaran Hearn; 13. Ben LeSage; 14. Jeff Hassler; 15. Patrick Parfrey

16. Andrew Quattrin; 17. Djustice Sears-Duru; 18. Jake Ilnicki; 19. Mike Sheppard; 20. Matt Heaton; 21. Jamie Mackenzie; 22. Shane O'Leary; 23. Nick Blevins

Some Useful Rugby Passing Drills

Here is a quick, easy passing progression that will help you and your team sharpen your distribution skills and carve opponents up on the weekends. Even the best defenses in the world cannot defend near-perfect passing, so having the ability to run-catch-pass is one of the most lethal weapons in the book. 

We Stand With You

The events of the last week have been tremendously painful to us all.

Rugby Drills That Keep Your Social Distance

As of June 1st, many rugby teams have been granted the option of getting together to conduct practice. However, the practices must adhere to the six feet social distancing rules and players are not allowed to use any equipment. Therefore, options for a practice plan are going to be extremely limited, but that doesn't mean you can't still get some good out of having the team together. 

Bring Em Down: How To Tackle Big Guys In Rugby

For many of rugby players out there, especially us smaller ones, we're all too familiar with the sight of a large, rampaging big man or woman lined up across from us about to get the ball. Our fight or flight instincts kick in, and in that moment of instinctual reaction we dictate the likelihood that the tackle does or does not get made. 

Step By Step Guide: How To Break Tackles In Rugby

One of the best ways to completely unhinge a defense is to beat your defender one on one with a step or a tackle bust. While not all of us can step like Cheslin Kolbe, we do all have the ability to break a tackle and get our team on the front foot. No matter your size, speed, or strength, you can always bust out of a tackle with some clever use of footwork and a trust in your balance. 

"What Is Rugby?" - As Told By USA Eagles

What is rugby and what does it mean to those who play it? I had the privilege of speaking with eight different USA National Team players over the past couple of weeks, and I asked each of them that very question, "What is rugby?"

What Is Rugby Sevens & How Did It Get Started?

Somewhere, someday, somebody in 19th century thought to themselves, "Hmm, rugby would be a lot cooler if there were less players and more space to work with." The solution to this pondering was the invention of rugby sevens, which as the name would suggest, involves two teams of sevens playing on the same size pitch as a standard rugby game. 

Getting Started: How Do I Play Rugby?

Though it's one of the greatest, if not the greatest, sports in the world, rugby remains a relatively unknown commodity in the United States. Yes, it's continued to gain some traction through the years and the garden variety sports fan has come to know what the sport is, but by and large it's still a very niche game in the states. 

Rugby Equipment Every Team Should Have

One of the beautiful things about rugby is that it doesn't take much more than a ball, a pair of boots, some shorts, a shirt, and a mouthpiece to play it. It's an excellent sport that requires little in the way of setting it up, whether it's a real game or just touch. 

Rees' Pieces Vol. 2: Why The Eagles Can Rule Women's Rugby

My name is Alex Rees and  I am introducing a new FloRugby column titled "Rees' Pieces". I currently play rugby in Austin, Texas for the Austin Huns and the Austin Gilgronis, as well as write and create content for FloSports.