Young Eagles shut out Chile in Fort Lauderdale
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Men's Eagles gave the home crowd at Lockhart Stadium at least 10 things to cheer about Saturday night in a 64-0 defeat of Chile in their final home match of the inaugural Americas Rugby Championship.
Nic Edwards capped off one of the greatest U.S. team tries in recent memory in the first half of his international debut, but succumbed to an injury just ahead of halftime, and was one of six Eagles to score their first tries. John Mitchell's team will now head to South America for the tournament's final two matches, beginning with a visit to Brazil Saturday, Feb. 27.
The Eagles began the match on the front foot with continuous pressure in Chile's half, getting runs from the forwards and the backs. Edwards was a constant threat on the wing and nearly opened the scoring in the third minute. David Tameilau lost the ball on the try line in that same drive and the Eagles were penalized in the ensuing scrum, but began their lineout prowess early.
Luke Hume could not find enough space on the wing to get into the try zone in the ninth minute, and Chile was able to catch its collective breath momentarily by winning a lineout. The maul was sent into touch, however, and the next set piece was won by the Eagles and turned into points by Chris Baumann.
Fly half JP Eloff was unable to convert the try from a tough angle, and missed a penalty goal attempt in the 15th minute after the Eagles drew a penalty 15 meters in front of the posts. He quickly made up for it with his first international try two minutes later, sidestepping multiple defenders on his way to a dive in the corner.
The Eagles' 10-0 lead did not stand for long, as debut scrum half Tom Bliss helped force a turnover in the defensive side of the pitch with a charging tackle. Edwards knocked down a pass following the hit, and Mike Te'o kicked it forward to chase. It bounced out of the full back's path, but Edwards grabbed the ball out of the air to hand it off to Te'o. Recent AIG Men's Junior All-American Lorenzo Thomas supported the play with a hard run past two defenders before giving it off to Eloff, who found Edwards with the final pass. The wing dove behind the sticks for a 17-0 lead.
— USA Rugby (@USARugby) February 20, 2016
The Eagles lost Baumann to an injury in the 27th minute after he was able to continue through some pain earlier in the match and kept its shutout lead when Matías Nordenflycht missed a penalty goal attempt in the 31st minute. Joseph Taufete'e gave the U.S. its third consecutive bonus point with the fourth try of the half, taking the ball from a breakdown 15 meters from the try line. Eloff's conversion extended the lead to 24-0.
Edwards was injured on the ensuing restart, going into contact against multiple defenders. Olive Kilifi, who replaced Baumann, then chased a clearance kick only to be shown a yellow card for dangerous play. The 10-minute sinning began in the 38th minute and carried over into the second half. Bliss was also unable to continue past the halftime whistle after aggravating an injury, and was replaced by Niku Kruger at No. 9.
Jake Anderson was substituted for Edwards in the backs, but was forced off the pitch in the 44th minute when a front-rower was required in a scrum. Demecus Beach made his first appearance for the Eagles in the set piece. The U.S. kept Chile scoreless throughout the man-advantage - and the entire match - and had multiple scoring opportunities of their own.
After scoring three tries from the set piece last weekend against rival Canada, the Eagles went for the lineout rather than a penalty goal throughout the remainder of the match. In the 51st minute, the Eagles stole their second consecutive lineout before they turned over possession from a loose ball. Hume grabbed it again to find Thomas for the center's first international try.
Minutes later, the Eagles were back in the attacking half and Eloff split a defensive gap to send a rocket of a pass out to Anderson for the University of California, Berkeley, graduate's first try and a 38-0 lead. Captain Todd Clever, not to be outdone, sent two defenders to the ground in a touch-line run from his own half to the attacking 22, but his pass just eluded the outreaching Kruger.
Te'o's first try came after several Chilean defenders gave up on the 64th-minute play. Several quick offloads from the Eagle forwards led to Kruger taking contact and losing the ball, but it was knocked out of the fly half's hands by a defender, meaning play was still alive. Te'o took the ball and trotted to the try line, and heard the call of Thomas to dot down in-goal for a 43-0 lead.
— USA Rugby (@USARugby) February 21, 2016
Hume sent Chad London into the in-goal area with a useful grubber kick behind the defense two minutes later, and scored a try of his own in the 73rd minute with a run straight at the defense and over the try line. Te'o finished things off in the 77th minute, galloping through a cramp to seal the win at 64-0.
The U.S. gains five points from the 10-try shutout of Chile, just the third meeting between the two nations. The Eagles now hold a 2-1 record against the South Americans, who went into the match in fifth place in the ARC standings.
Throughout the team's history, only three Eagles sides have ever scored more than 64 points, with the most recent in a 91-0 defeat of Barbados in 2006. Those three wins also saw more than 10 tries scored, and it happened on one further occasion against a South American team in 1989.
"The performance is more important [than the number of tries scored]," Mitchell said following the victory in southern Florida. "I think we're still naïve in terms of game management, but these are problems that have solutions and we're dealing with a very youthful team. The team's getting younger by the week.
"For me, it was a good performance but maybe too much individualism. Sometimes that can happen in a game like this. At times the execution wasn't on, but if you keep going to space there's always going to be a high probability of scoring."
The U.S. improves its point differential in the standings to leapfrog Argentina before the South American leg in Brazil and Uruguay. The next match in Brazil will be broadcast live on ESPN 3 (WatchESPN.com) Saturday, Feb. 27.
Men's Eagles | v. Chile
1. Eric Fry
2. Joseph Taufete'e (Sosene-Feagai @ 69')
3. Chris Baumann (Kilifi @ 27')
4. Ben Landry (Gletzer @ 58')
5. Brodie Orth
6. Nate Brakeley
7. Todd Clever (C)
8. David Tameilau (Blair @ 69')
9. Tom Bliss (Kruger @ 40')
10. JP Eloff
11. Nic Edwards (Anderson @ 37')
12. Chad London
13. Lorenzo Thomas
14. Luke Hume
15. Mike Te'o (Matyas @ 77')
Chile | v. USA
1. Claudio Zamorano
2. Tomás Dussaillaint
3. Luis Sepulveda
4. Felipe Bassaletti
5. Raimundo Piwonka
6. Ignacio Silva
7. Javier Richard
8. Benjamin Soto (C)
9. Beltran Vergara
10. Cristian Onetto
11. Humberto Chacaltana
12. Francisco De la Fuente
13. Matías Nordenflycht
14. Matías Contreras
15. Pablo Casas
Chile | Reserves
16. Rodrigo Moya
17. Ińaki Gurruchaga
18. Jose Tomas Munita
19. Cristobal Niedmann
20. Nikola Bursic
21. Matthieu Manas
22. Jose Ignacio Larenas
23. Leonardo Montoya
Men's Eagles | 64
Tries: Baumann, Eloff, Edwards, Taufete'e, Thomas, Anderson, Te'o (2), London, Hume
Conversions: Eloff (7)
Discipline: Kilifi (Yellow @ 37')
Chile | 0
Men's Eagles | Americas Rugby Championship 2016
v. Argentina - D 35-35
v. Canada - W 30-22
v. Chile - W 64-0
v. Brazil - Saturday, Feb. 27 @ 6 p.m. ET - Arena Barueri (São Paolo, Brazil)
v. Uruguay - Saturday, March 5 @ 4:10 p.m. ET - Charrua Stadium (Montevideo, Uruguay)
**Americas Rugby Championship Standings Breakdown**
Win = 4 points
Loss = 0 points
Draw = 2 points
Bonus Point = 1 for four tries scored / 1 for losing by 7 points or fewer (note: only 1 bonus point can be awarded per team per match)