Saturday, November 13, 2010

USA defeat Portugal 22-17

The USA Eagles final tour before Rugby World Cup 2011 saw a great win today vs France 2007 competitors, Portugal in Lisbon. In next years Rugby World Cup, the USA will face three European teams in Ireland, Italy and Russia. The later is a familiar to Portugal and has been successful vs Os Lobos (the wolves) in recent years. The 22-17 win therefore gives the USA Eagles not only vital experience with only 10 months before New Zealand 2011, but also a psychological edge over Russia whom the USA defeated in the previous officail USA test match in June´s Churchill Cup in Denver, Colorado.

The hosts, playing in red, started the match the better side and were leading 6-0 after 35 minutes thanks to two penalties to Australian born fullback come flyhalf, Joe Gardner. The USA responded after putting phases together with a great try to Zee Ngwenya in the right hand corner which flyhalf Nese Malifa converted to put the USA Eagles in the lead. The try appeared to damped the spirits of Os Lobos and they failed to score again in the half with Malifa kicking a penalty to put the USA 10-6 up at the break.

Os Lobos responded by scoring first after the break with Gardner making it 10-9. The USA Eagles, however, showed the Portuguese exactly how good their backs are as Agen winger Kevin Swiryn broke the line to set up Andrew Sunuila with a superb try which made the scores 17-9 before replacement back, Paul Emerick pounced on a Portuguese turnover to run 50 metres to score the Eagles third try.

It would not be one way traffic, however, as Portgual scored next - firstly through a fourth Gardener penalty and then a try to number 8 and former Montpellier forward Vasco Uva from a 5 metre scrum. The try came too late in the match for Portugal however as the USA already had the match in the bag. Nonetheless, the hosts performed very well in going down 22-17 but Todd Clever would be the man lifting the Super Bock Rugby Cup.

Future fixtures and indeed tours of this kind are an absolute must. Hopefully, the IRB can assist the USA Eagles in organizing a similar tour to South America to face the likes of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay in the not to distant future. With Uruguay, who receive virtually no tours, achieving a postive result today against East European powers Romania such a tour should indeed be planned for 2012.

Portugal host Namibia next weekend while the USA Eagles travel to Netherdale to take on Scotland A.

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