SANTIAGO, Chile - The high-scoring machine that is the Men's Eagles kept rolling in their first Americas Rugby Championship 2017 match in South America Saturday, beating Chile, 57-9, to remain a perfect 4-0 in the competition.
Head Coach John Mitchell's squad scored eight tries for the second time in three weeks, led by two apiece from flanker Tony Lamborn and substitute hooker Peter Malcolm. Vice captain Todd Clever also factored in the scoring as the Eagles kept their place atop the ARC standings with Argentina XV yet to play its Week Four matchup. The leaders will meet in Comodoro Rivadavia next Saturday, March 4, in a 3:10 p.m. ET kickoff on The Rugby Channel.
Having scored a combined 102 points in their two most recent victories against Brazil and Canada, the Eagles looked to continue their high-flying attacking play against a Chilean team that has conceded an ARC-high 98 points through three matches. Quick hands from the backs and forwards alike helped to create scoring opportunities in the first frame, but ball-handling errors and a quick-to-rush Chilean defense kept true chances at a premium.
Captain Nate Augspurger elected for set pieces before penalty kicks out of his fly half, Ben Cima, with a play in the opening minutes before his own run set up a successful penalty goal for the No. 10 in the sixth minute. Inside center JP Eloff ensured the lead from the first points on the scoreboard held with a chase of a kick into the U.S. try zone, and the Eagles pushed back the attack to win back possession.
Chilean fly half Francisco González was perfect from the tee throughout the match, starting the streak with a 17th-minute penalty kick that leveled the score at 3-3. Wing Aaron Davis kept Chile from gaining a lead in the 24th minute - despite Chile being a man down from a Sergio Basuñán yellow card - with a hustling track-back to make a chasing tackle, clearing the breakdown area by dragging the Chilean into touch for full back Mike Te'o to scoop up the ball. Scrum half Shaun Davies sent a high kick into the Chile 10 from the first pass, where the bounce favored onrushing outside center Bryce Campbell. The Indiana University student-athlete quickly found Davis, who scooted inside for Lamborn to follow up the attack. The flanker had fellow loose forward Cam Dolan in plenty of space, and found the Cardiff Blues professional with the pass for the opening try.
What a try by USA! Turning danger into opportunity with great play! pic.twitter.com/DNahGLkEiD— The Rugby Channel (@TheRugbyChannel) February 25, 2017
Dolan's second try of the competition was nearly followed up by a third with a nifty lateral run through the defense following the restart. The play did not come off as a follow-up pass was accidentally kicked to the try zone. Chile was helped by an offside call against the Eagles moments later, and drew a penalty in the attacking half for González to bring the score line to 10-6.
Augspurger turned over possession in the attacking half with minutes to play in the first half, and secure play from the lineout saw the forwards bombard the try line for Lamborn to dot down, 17-6.
The halftime whistle blew a bit earlier than the players on the field had anticipated, but they came back out for the second half with the same energy and enterprise. Chile offered the first threat following a U.S. knock, and Campbell was shown a yellow card for entering the breakdown from the side five meters from the try line. The Eagles did not allow the ensuing scrum to yield points, and kept Chile scoreless during the man-advantage save for a 49th-minute penalty kick by González - his final kick of the match. Seconds after the 17-9 kick, a swift attacking move using the full width of the pitch saw Eloff take contact in front of the line. Reserve David Tameilau used brute force to take the ball from the ruck to the try line for his first test try, and blocked a drop goal attempt minutes later to hand the ball off to lock partner Matt Jensen for the Brigham Young University student-athlete's own first international score.
Pressure into points again! Tameilau to Jensen for a great Try! pic.twitter.com/9aepeQwrmq— The Rugby Channel (@TheRugbyChannel) February 25, 2017
Leading handily, 29-9, with nearly 30 minutes to play and the home team tiring, additional reserves entered the match - including international debutants Andrew Turner and Calvin Whiting. The fresh legs were prevalent when Chilean inside center Simón Pardakhty was shown yellow for a shoulder charge on Eloff in the 60th minute, but the Eagles were kept out of the try zone until the final minutes of the sinning. Reserve Will Magie put Clever into space following yet another Tameilau run for the vice captain to burst into the try zone, 36-9.
Young Hanco Germishuys played the role of poacher to end a Chilean attack five minutes from time, though Chile would win the ball back for a lineout in its own half. Thinking more about the deficit than the set piece, replacement scrum half Bertrán Vergara flung a pass out to the well-placed Lamborn for the flanker's second try of the game and fifth of his career.
Olive Kilifi, in his first action of the year, held onto a low pass at the gain line and strode past the defenders for an offload to Augspurger in the 78th minute. The captain popped the ball out to Peter Malcolm for a 40-meter run and the Wheeling Jesuit University student-athlete's first try in an Eagles jersey. The two combined again before the final whistle, with Augspurger baiting the defender before a one-handed spin out to Malcolm brought the final score to 57-9.
The Eagles equaled their longest winning streak of four consecutive victories with Saturday's result. The U.S. last won four international matches between the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers in the fall of 2009 and two matches in 2010, and had previously won four straight in 2003. Next Saturday's match in Argentina will determine the final standings of the second year of the Americas Rugby Championship, kicking off at 3:10 p.m. ET with the live broadcast available on The Rugby Channel.
Men's Eagles | v. Chile
1. Ben Tarr (Purpura @ 47')
2. James Hilterbrand (Malcolm @ 51')
3. Chris Baumann (Kilifi @ 55')
4. Matthew Jensen
5. Siaosi Mahoni (Tameilau @ 47')
6. Todd Clever (Germishuys @ 66')
7. Tony Lamborn
8. Cameron Dolan
9. Shaun Davies (Turner @ 67')
10. Ben Cima
11. Nate Augspurger (C)
12. JP Eloff (Whiting @ 58')
13. Bryce Campbell
14. Aaron Davis (Magie @ 63')
15. Mike Te'o
Chile | v. USA
1. Vittorio Lastra (Valech @ 52')
2. Manuel Gurruchaga (C) (Moya @ 67')
3. José Tomás Munita (Ugarte @ 52')
4. Nikola Bursic
5. Mario Mayol (Orpis @ 65')
6. Arturo Seeman (Calderón @ 59')
7. Anton Petrowitsch
8. Manuel Dagnino
9. Sergio Bascuñán (Vergara @ 55')
10. Francisco González (Castillo @ 67')
11. Tomás Ianiszewski (Urrutia @ 40')
12. Simón Pardakhty
13. Franco Velarde
14. Matías Contreras
15. Pedro Pablo Verschae
Chile | Reserves
16. Rodrigo Moya
17. Sebastián Valech
18. Ernesto Ugarte
19. Nelson Calderón
20. Eduardo Orpis
21. Beltrán Vergara
22. Jorge Castillo
23. Mauricio Urrutia
Men's Eagles | 57
Tries: Dolan, Lamborn (2), Tameilau, Jensen, Clever, Malcolm (2)
Conversions: Cima (7)
Discipline: Campbell (Yellow)
Chile | 9
Penalties: González (3)
Discipline: Buscañán (Yellow), Pardakhty (Yellow)
USA Eagles | Americas Rugby Championship