Georgia wins in Georgia, Eagles held off late

KENNESAW, Ga. - The USA Men's Eagles completed the Emirates Airline Summer Series winless following a 21-17 defeat to the Georgia Lelos Saturday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University.

The U.S. will finish the summer's set of test matches with a two-game Rugby World Cup 2019 Qualifier series against Canada June 24 in Hamilton, Ontario, and July 1 in San Diego, Calif. For more information on tickets to each game, visit the RWC Qualifiers page.

The teams were satisfied fighting for territory in the air in the opening minutes, keeping out of contact in a sweltering heat in the southern state of Georgia. The Eagles were able to hold their own in early scrums, as well, but a short kick by AJ MacGinty around midfield was returned by full back Merab Kvirikashvili for the opening try, 5-0. Matai Leuta nearly dotted down moments later after breaking a tackle 10 meters from the try line and bashing through another, but the Eagles were penalized in the breakdown before the ball could be recycled.

MacGinty put the Eagles on the scoreboard in the 17th minute, rewarding the team for pressuring Georgia in its own end. Slippery Georgian fly half Lasha Khmaladze stayed out of the tackle near the 22 in the 25th minute, enough to earn a penalty for his side. Kvirikashvili extended the lead to 11-3 with the penalty goal.

Just minutes from the halftime whistle, Bryce Campbell and MacGinty combined to defend a well-placed cross-field kick at the U.S. 22, stopping the attacker short of the try line. The Eagles caused the ball to be knocked forward for a scrum, but Chris Baumann was shown a yellow card in the set piece. Match official Federico Anselmi blew a successive set piece dead for an infraction against the Eagles and awarded Georgia a penalty try on the last play of the half.

The Eagles defended the 18-3 halftime deficit - and player disadvantage - well to open the second period of play, conceding only a penalty goal in the first two minutes of the second half. Kvirikashvili missed another opportunity at points from the 10 before momentum swung in the direction of the Eagles. Forcing Georgia to defend with pace, the U.S. won the favor of the match official for several penalties inside the 22. A quick tap in the 57th minute found Nate Augspurger in space on the wing for the Eagles' first try of the game, which MacGinty converted to make it 21-10.

It was Georgia's turn to defend a sin-bin session in the 65th minute after Mike Te'o drew a tackle in the air. The lineout from the infraction saw a U.S. maul push forward inside the 22, but MacGinty lost the ball forward when it came out in front of the posts. A penalty against the Eagles at midfield as Georgia sought an own-zone escape set up a defensive stand for the home side, which it completed without conceding points after a missed drop-goal attempt.

Replying immediately with intent downfield, MacGinty broke through the gain line with a dummy inside the attacking 10. Keeping the ball out of contact, offload after offload led to Te'o finding substitute Matt Jensen, who raced through a gap in the defense for his second career try. MacGinty converted for a four-point deficit at 21-17. With two minutes remaining in the clash, the Eagles found a late stunner just out of grasp with Ryan Matyas being taken into touch at the Georgian 22 for the final whistle.

Men's Eagles | v. Georgia
1. Tony Purpura (Tarr @ 40')
2. James Hilterbrand (Malcolm @ 53')
3. Chris Baumann (Waldren @ 49')
4. Nate Brakeley
5. Ben Landry
6. Todd Clever (C) (Jensen @ 65')
7. Tony Lamborn (Cima @ 75')
8. Cam Dolan (Durutalo @ 53')
9. Shaun Davies (Matyas @ 58')
10. Will Magie (Brache @ 53')
11. Nate Augspurger
12. AJ MacGinty
13. Bryce Campbell
14. Matai Leuta
15. Mike Te'o

Men's Eagles | Reserves
16. Peter Malcolm
17. Ben Tarr
18. Dino Waldren
19. Matthew Jensen
20. Andrew Durutalo
21. Ben Cima
22. Marcel Brache
23. Ryan Matyas

Georgia | v. USA
1. Mikheil Nariashvili
2. Jaba Bregvadze
3. Levan Chilachava
4. Giorgi Nemsadze
5. Kote Mikautadze
6. Lasha Lomidze
7. Vito Kolelishvili
8. Beka Bitsadze
9. Vasil Lobzhanidze
10. Lasha Khmaladze
11. Sandro Todua
12. Merab Sharkadze (C)
13. Davit Katcharava
14. Giorgi Koshadze
15. Merab Kvirikashvili

Georgia | Reserves
16. Shalva Mamukashvili
17. Tornike Mataradze
18. Soso Bekoshvili
19. Giorgi Chkhaidze
20. Otar Giorgadze
21. Giorgi Begadze
22. Lasha Malaghuradze
23. Giorgi Tsutskiridze

Men's Eagles | 17
Tries: Augspurger, Jensen
Conversions: MacGinty (2)
Penalties: MacGinty
Discipline: Baumann (Yellow)

Georgia | 21
Tries: Kvirikashvili, Penalty
Conversions: Penalty
Penalties: Kvirikashvili (3)

USA Men's Eagles | Summer 2017 Schedule
v. Ireland (Emirates Airline Summer Series) - L 55-19
v. Georgia (Emirates Airline Summer Series) - L 21-17
v. Canada (Rugby World Cup 2019 Qualifier) - Saturday, June 24 @ 3 p.m. ET - Tim Hortons Field
v. Canada (Rugby World Cup 2019 Qualifier) - Saturday, July 1 @ 6 p.m. ET - Torero Stadium