USA and Canada World Cup Round 2 Round-Up
The Major League Rugby players that make up the United States and Canadian national rugby teams had the unique opportunity to put their skills up with some of the best programs in the country on Wednesday morning.
While both USA and Canada came out on the wrong end of the final score in their second-round matches, there was plenty to be proud of.
If testing yourself against the top of the competition is the goal as a competitor, then USA and Canada got a good look at where they stand on Wednesday. For Canada, they very literally got a look at how they compared to the top of the table in their 63-0 loss to top-ranked New Zealand. As for the United States, they came out on the wrong side of a 33-9 result to No. 7 France early Wednesday. While 33-9 may look bad, the match was much closer than the score indicated.
For 65 minutes on Wednesday morning, France was on upset alert. Those pesky Eagles just wouldn’t go away. Despite giving up two first half tries, two AJ MacGinty penalty goals kept the USA hot on France’s heals, trailing just 12-6 at the half. The Eagles were in it, and France was beginning to show signs of frustration. The Eagles went into the locker room at the half winning the territory (56 percent) and possession (55 percent) battles. France was having trouble getting out of their own way, they conceded eight first-half penalties while the USA only conceded one. Unlike in their opening match against England, the Eagles were forcing France to keep up in the tackle department. The USA had 58 tackles at the half to France’s 55.
It looked as if France had worked out their issues at the break when they took their opening possession right down into Eagles territory. Just as they had done throughout the entire match, the Eagles defense stood tall and shut down a driving French maul by forcing a turnover.
After 20-plus minutes of impressive defense, the Eagles were rewarded with the first points of the second half with MacGinty’s third penalty goal of the match. With just over fifteen minutes to play, this cut France’s lead to just three points. Unfortunately for the Eagles, penalty goals weren’t going to be enough to slay the giant that was France.
Just two minutes later, France finished off a 15-phase sequence and kicked the conversion to push their lead to 10 points. That opened the floodgates, and the French tacked on two more tries before the final whistle to hand the USA a 33-9 loss.
Five MLR players, Nate Brakeley of Rugby United New York, Hanco Germishuys and Shaun Davies of the Glendale Raptors, Cam Dolan of the NOLA Gold and Mike Te’o of the San Diego Legion, made up the starting XV in the USA’s loss to France while three more, Dylan Fawsitt of RUNY, Olive Kilifi of the Seattle Seawolves and Thretton Palamo of the Houston SaberCats, all saw time off the bench.
Brakeley finished with a game-high 14 tackles in the loss while each one of his MLR colleagues – with the exception of Palamo – finished with at least one tackle. Germishuys finished with six tackles to go along with the 30 meters he gained. Te’o finished up his day with two tackles and 23 meters gained.
As for Canada, seven MLR players, Djustice Sears-Duru and Jeff Hassler of the Seattle Seawolves, Eric Howard of the NOLA Gold, and Cole Keith, Lucas Rumball, and Patrick Parfrey of the Toronto Arrows, made up the starting XV with five more, Andrew Quattrin and Mike Sheppard of the Arrows, Jake Ilnicki and Phil Mack of the Seawolves, and Josh Larsen of the New England Free Jacks, seeing time off the bench in their 63-0 loss to the top-ranked All Blacks. Rumball led all players in the match with 16 tackles.
USA will play their third match in Pool C on Tuesday, October 8 at 12:45 AM ET. Canada will continue to make their way through Pool B when they take on South Africa on Tuesday, October 8 at 6:15 AM ET.
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