Jaguars defeat Eagles Select XV in Americas Rugby Championship opener

LANGFORD, British Columbia – Tries from Chad London and Tim Maupin could not see the Eagles Select XV through to a win Saturday at Westhills Stadium, as the Argentina Jaguars won the first match of the 2014 IRB Americas Rugby Championship, 41-14.

Argentina controlled play early, though the Eagles did not concede any points on the scoreboard from the pressure. From a lineout in the seventh minute, Argentina hoped to drive a maul into the try zone to score first, but the referee was not satisfied with the throw, saving the Eagles the trouble.

A minute later, Argentina won the scrum from the penalty call and passed the ball well to isolate winger Dan Isaack for the opening try. Patricio Fernández nailed the difficult conversion for a 7-0 lead.

The Eagles began growing into the game in the minute following the try, and made the time on the ball count with attacks in Argentina’s half. A few penalties resulted in the Jaguars gaining possession, but the Eagles stayed in their opponents’ half. John Cullen got the ball back for the Eagles following a botched lineout, and Adam Siddall sent a cross-field chip kick straight into the chest of the awaiting Tim Maupin. The winger had two defenders to beat and did so to dot down for the try. Siddall nailed the conversion kick to level the match at 7-7.

The Eagles had more setpiece troubles and conceded a second try in the 20th minute. The Jaguars were stuffed on the line by a massive ruck but the referee awarded a try, anyway. Fernández kicked the conversion from in front to put his side back in the lead, 14-0.

More pressure from the Jaguars resulted in a third try in the 25th minute when prop Matïas Dïaz dove over the try line. Another successful conversion extended the lead to 21-7.

Siddall put the Eagles on the front foot with the ensuing kickoff, sending the ball deep into Argentina’s territory. With an aggressive push from the chasers, the Jaguars lost the ball forward for an Eagles scrum. After a couple of resets, the Eagles were able to attack with a won scrum but only for a phase before a knock.

More errors cost the Eagles valuable possession in Argentina’s half, though they were given a chance to put points on the board in the 33rd minute. Match captain Louis Stanfill opted for Siddall’s boot and points rather than a lineout when the Jaguars committed a penalty within 30 meters of their try line, but the fly half mishit his kick to keep Argentina’s two-try lead at 21-7.

The Eagles drew closer a few minutes later, however, after a quick pass from scrum half Shalom Suniula set the attack in motion. Chad London was the beneficiary of efficient passing through the backs as the Glendale Raptor scored his first try of the tournament with a strong run from the wing. Siddall stepped up for the tough-angled conversion and nailed it for a 21-14 scoreline.

Seattle Saracens duo Cullen and Matt Trouville each had strong tackles and runs in the dying minutes of the half, but the Eagles could not get close to Argentina’s try line to get points in any fashion. After a knock, the referee signaled the end of the first 40 minutes.

A frustrating half for the Eagles almost got worse inside the first five minutes of the second period, but Fernández missed an early penalty kick. The respite was only momentary, however, as Argentina used a huge break in its own half to set up the platform for a try. The Jaguars moved the ball from one wing to the other for Isaack to add his second of the match and extend Argentina’s lead to 26-14.

Argentina’s Rodrigo Báez controlled the ensuing restart and ran down the touchline past the out-of-position Eagles. His offload was poor, but a teammate kicked the ball towards the try zone for Isaack to dive on it and earn a hat trick of tries. Fernández kicked the extras to give Argentina a 33-14 win.

Phil Thiel was sent to the sin bin in the 57th minute and Argentina was able to capitalize immediately with a Fernández penalty kick. The Jaguars thought they had scored another try in the 64th minute with a few grubber kicks, but the ball was deemed to have been knocked in the build-up play.

Thiel reentered the match in the 67th minute and the Eagles nearly got to the line a moment later, but were taken into touch for an Argentinian lineout. Lemoto Filikitonga, playing on the wing, made a nice run in the 71st minute, but possession was lost in the tackle on Thiel a phase later. The Jaguars made them pay as Fernández added five points to his personal scoring tally with a set of kicks down the touch line. His try brought the final score to 41-14.

Head Coach Mike Tolkin found a few positives in the first match of the tournament, including moments of strong defensive work and an improvement in the setpieces.

“The scrum set a solid platform on attack and held strong on defense,” he said after the match. “We also forced turnovers at the tackle area well in spells. Our work there was inconsistent, but when we worked hard and accurately, we got results.

“The lineout got better as the game went on. We would have liked to have disrupted more of Argentina’s, and it is an area that we will continue to work on more precisely during our assembly.

“Overall, we need to get more aggressive with our defense with line speed and kick-chase, and not slide off as many tackles.”

Argentina took the full five points from the match, whereas the Eagles come away with none to drop to the bottom of the IRB Americas Rugby Championship table after the first set of matches. Canada defeated Uruguay, 20-6, in the second match of the day at Westhills Stadium.

The Eagles will look for their first victory against host Canada Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 12:00 P.M. ET. Follow live match updates on Twitter with @USARugby and watch the Eagles Select XV live on Rugby Canada TV.

Eagles Select XV | v Argentina Jaguars
1. Nick Wallace
2. Phil Thiel
3. Olive Kilifi
4. John Cullen
5. Graham Harriman
6. Louis Stanfill
7. Kyle Sumsion
8. Matthew Trouville
9. Shalom Suniula
10. Adam Siddall
11. Tim Maupin
12. Andrew Suniula
13. Chad London
14. Lemoto Filikitonga
15. Troy Hall

Eagles Select XV | Reserves
16. Zachary Fenoglio
17. Ben Tarr
18. Angus MacLellan
19. Brian Doyle
20. Ben Pinkelman
21. Nate Augspurger
22. Justin Hundley
23. Tim Stanfill

Argentina Jaguars | v Eagles Select XV
1. Lucas Noguera
2. Matías Cortese
3. Matías Díaz
4. Guido Petti
5. Matías Alemanno
6. Rodrigo Báez
7. Javier Ortega Desio
8. Facundo Isa
9. Felipe Ezcurra
10. Patricio Fernández
11. Dan Isaack
12. Brian Ormson
13. Joaquín Paz
14. Facundo Barrea
15. Román Miralles

Argentina Jaguars | Reserves
Roberto Tejerizo
Julian Montoya
Lucas Martinez
Juan Cruz Guillemain
Francisco Panessi
Gonzalo Bertranou
Ignacio Brex
Frederico Giminez

Eagles Select XV | 14
Tries: Maupin, London
Conversions: Siddall (2)
Discipline: Thiel (yellow)

Argentina Jaguars | 41
Tries: Isaack (3), Bâez, Dïaz, Fernández
Conversions: Fernández (3)
Penalties: Fernández
Discipline: Ormson (yellow)