Friday, November 12, 2010

Portugal vs USA - Preview

Two competitors from Rugby World Cup 2007 go head to head tommorrow as Portugal host the USA Eagles at the University Stadium in Lisbon. Portugal missed out on qualification for New Zealand 2011 after finishing fourth behind Georgia, Russia and Romania. Os Lobos (Wolves in Portuguese), nonetheless are a great team who left a lasting impression at France 2007 in scoring tries against Scotland, New Zealand and Italy and almost defeating Romania. Portugal are currently ranked 22nd in the world, seven places below the USA who in 15th spot. The teams have met once before, in 1998 with the USA winning 61-5.

Portugal have four French based players in their team and the USA has called upon 11 professional players and 4 home based players for the match - the first for the USA since June´s Churchill Cup and the first for Portugal since March. Portugal has played 5 tests so far in 2011 with two wins and three loses. Os Lobos scored a highly impressive 69-0 win vs Germany and also defeated neighbours Spain 33-15. Their three loses could all have been wins as the lost by scored of 11, 6 and 4 points vs Russia, Georgia and Romania. The USA, in contrast, have played a similar number of matches but only one international match - vs Russia in Denver in which they won 39-22.

The notable players returning from the win in June vs Russia are winger Kevin Swiryn and backrower and captain Todd Clever who have both been scoring tries for their respective teams in France and Japan. Others based in France included in the starting lineup include prop Mate Moeakiola, wing Takudzwa Ngwenya and debutant Setareki Tulievuka at centre. Merely a month ago Tuilevuka was interviewed here on Rugby World Cup - Argentina 2023 and thought he was a long way from being a USA Eagle. Tuilevuka´s selection is a reflection of his form for Montpellier and his genuine ability to break the line.

The inclusion of Seta has come at the expense of Paul Emerick who has been selected on the bench alongside other big name USA players, notably Mike MacDonald. The inclusion of both 18 Jonathon Gaganio and Inaki Basauri offers thw USA with two high quality backrowers on the bench and Mike Petri´s will have to wait another week after Tim Usasz has been named at scumhalf. Usasz has the potential to really stand out vs Portugal given his country´s outstanding backline with a worldclass back three of Swiryn, Ngwenya and Chris Wyles who have all been in great form this season.

Kickoff is at 10:00 a.m. EST on Saturday. After Portugal, the Eagles will travel to Scotland to take on Scotland ‘A’ and will finish their Tour in Tblissi against Georgia in what is ideal preperation for the clash vs Russia in New Zealand 2011.

with thanks

Prediction: Portgual to compete well in the first half but the USA´s superior fitness to shine in the second. The USA to win by 15 points.


1 Spachuk (Colomiers, France)
2 Correia (capitão)
3 Alves (Montauban, France)
4 Uva (Montpellier, France)
5 Severino
6 Uva
7 Bardy (Clermont, France)
8 Girão
9 Pinto
10 Gardener
11 Aguilar
12 Silva
13 Oliveira
14 Lima
15 Leal

USA Eagles

1 Mate Moeakiola (Bobigny 93, France)
2 Phil Thiel (Life University)
3 Shawn Pittman (London Welsh, England)
4 Scott Lavalla (Dublin University, Ireland)
5 John van der Giessen (Bath, England)
6 Louis Stanfill (Mogliano, Italy)
7 Todd Clever (Suntory, Japan)
8 Nic Johnson (Denver Barbarians)
9 Tim Usasz (Nottingham, England)
10 Nese Malifa (Glendale)
11 Kevin Swiryn (Agen, France)
12 Andrew Suniula (Chicago Griffins)
13 Seta Tulievuka (Montpellier, France)
14 Takudzwa Ngwenya (Biarritz, France)
15 Chris Wyles (Saracens, England)

Reserves: 16 Chris Biller (San Francisco Golden Gate), 17 Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie, England), 18 Jonathon Gaganio (Eastern Province, South Africa), 19 Inaki Basauri (L’Aquila, Italy), 20 Mike Petri (Sale, England), 21 Tai Enosa (Belmont Shore), 22 Paul Emerick (Ulster, Ireland)

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