Americas Rugby Championship ends as Eagles Select XV defeat Uruguay, finish second

LANGFORD, British Columbia – The Eagles Select XV defeated Uruguay, 30-5, Sunday at Westhills Stadium to finish in second place at 2014 IRB Americas Rugby Championship.

The Eagles compiled a 2-1 record in Canada with victories against the host and Uruguay and an opening-night loss to tournament champion Argentina.

Uruguay could have drawn first blood in just the second minute of Sunday’s match after a penalty against the Eagles set up a penalty kick attempt. Aleja Durán could not capitalize, however, and sent his kick wide of the uprights.

The Eagles took a few other penalties in the following minutes but were able to slow the game down and go through attacking phases. Zack Test, in his first start for the Eagles Select XV, proved why his sevens style translates to the 15s version of the game with a few moves on the wing. In the 11th minute, Ben Pinkelman ran through a hold in the Uruguayan defense nearly 20 meters from the try line and dotted down for the match’s first points.

Though Adam Siddall’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful, the 5-0 lead spurred the Eagles on to confident attacking play. Tim Stanfill was meters from doubling the lead after a quick pass to the wing was called forward by the match official.

A few minutes later, the Eagles again asked questions of the Uruguay defense with an attack that threatened less than 10 meters from the try line. A knock-on turned over possession, something that would happen too often deep in the Uruguayan half in the first period.

Uruguay could have turned the table on the Eagles in the 26th minute with a good break down the left wing, but Test was there to make the tackle and draw a penalty from the attacker.

The Eagles could have scored twice in a three-minute span before the end of the half. First, after winning a lineout five meters from the try line, they lost possession after a few phases to a knock. In the 33rd minute, Stanfill, from the ground not far from the try line, popped the ball out to Andrew Durutalo, who was not able to dot down before a defender knocked it away.

"We moved the ball into space well and often today, but we need to be more effective in finishing off those line breaks," Head Coach Mike Tolkin said. "Simplicity and efficiency is what's needed versus the big play."

Tolkin’s team did get something to show for the time spent in Uruguay’s half. With five minutes remaining in the opening half, Siddall kicked a penalty to extend the lead to 8-0.

Uruguay had a player sent to the sin bin three minutes from the whistle and gave Siddall another chance to add three points, but the 45-meter kick missed its target.

Durutalo blew through the defense once again on one of the final plays of the half but possession was lost to another knock.

Missed chances were no doubt the topic of discussion in the locker room at Rugby Canada’s Centre of Excellence, and it showed immediately once play resumed.

In the 41st minute of the match, Folau Niua and the winger Stanfill combined along the left touchline on the attack to beat the final two defenders and give Stanfill his third try of the tournament.

Down 13-0, Uruguay struggled to keep possession and clear the ball from its own half. Both teams spent a couple of minutes following the try kicking for territory. Siddall had the final say with a kick that rolled into touch within 10 meters of the Uruguay try line.

The lineout was overthrown straight to tour captain Louis Stanfill, who took a few steps and dove over the line for his first try and a 20-0 Eagles lead.

The lead grew in the 56th minute from Siddall’s second successful penalty kick. With the score 23-0, Uruguay began showing signs it could threaten the Eagles from some disjointed play after kicks at midfield. Both teams had a few runs, with Pinkelman there to deny Uruguay a break and full back Troy Hall nearly beating the entire defense for a try.

T. Stanfill, who had been warned and penalized a few times during the match for knocking Uruguay passes forward, stole a pass on the wing and burst into the try zone to dot down between the sticks in the 71st minute. Niua converted for a 30-0 lead.

Perhaps the Eagles took their feet off of the gas pedal or Uruguay took advantage of fresh legs on the field, but Los Teros kept the Eagles from scoring on multiple occasions in the final 10 minutes and scored a try to bring the final score to 30-5.

Argentina defeated Canada ‘A’ in the final match Sunday, giving the Jaguars their fourth consecutive ARC championship. The Eagles Select XV finished second at the tournament for the second consecutive year.

"The guys worked hard and made a lot of progress in a short time," Tolkin said. "Playing the Jaguars first up was very demanding but also got us up to speed more quickly than an easier game. Getting the silver again was satisfying."

The ARC gave Tolkin a chance to work with domestic players, as well as some younger players who may not have had the opportunity to make a full Eagles assembly at any other time during the year. That experience for the players and coaching staff alike will be invaluable as the Eagles prepare for a four-test November, beginning with the match against the New Zealand All Blacks at Soldier Field Nov. 1.

Eagles Select XV | v Uruguay
1. Nick Wallace
2. Phil Thiel (C)
3. Olive Kilifi
4. John Cullen
5. Graham Harriman
6. Ben Pinkelman
7. Andrew Durutalo
8. Louis Stanfill
9. Shalom Suniula
10. Adam Siddall
11. Tim Stanfill
12. Andrew Suniula
13. Folau Niua
14. Zack Test
15. Troy Hall

Eagles Select XV | Reserves
16. Zachary Fenoglio
17. Angus MacLellan
18. Ben Tarr
19. Kyle Sumsion
20. Brian Doyle
21. Justin Hundley
22. Lemoto Filikitonga
23. Tim Maupin

Uruguay | Starting XV
1. Mateo Sanguinetti
2. Juan Echeverría
3. Francisco Jiménez
4. Fernando Bascou
5. Ignacio Dotti
6. Agustín Alonso
7. Juan De Freitas
8. Diego Magno
9. Guillermo Lijtenstein
10. Alejo Durán
11. Leandro Leivas
12. Rodrigo Silva
13. Pedro Dolsan
14. Francisco Bulanti
15. Gastón Mieres

Uruguay | Reserves
16. Germán Kessler
17. Rodolfo De Mula
18. Lucas Scarnati
19. Gonzalo Soto
20. Matías Beer
21. Gabriel Puig
22. Matías Arocena
23. Federico Favaro

Eagles Select XV | 30
Tries: Pinkelman, T. Stanfill (2), L. Stanfill
Conversions: Siddall, Niua
Penalties: Siddall (2)

Uruguay | 5
Tries: Magno