Friday, June 17, 2011

USA vs Russia - Churchill Cup 2011 Preview

A match of massive significance will take place in western England tommorrow uin what is a preview of the much awaited clash to take place at Rugby World Cup 2011. The battle of the Cold War will give us all a chance to analyse both sides as Russia and the USA go head-to-head in Worcester. It is a full international with IRB World Rankings on the line and will be broadcast in both countries and around the world. Make no mistake, its a huge encounter. The match is also the second time in as many years that the sides have met in the Churchill Cup. The 2010 match took place in Denver, Colorado with both sides leading at different moments but the North Americans went on to win 39-22. The USA enter the match followig below par performances vs the England Saxons and Tonga. While Tonga competed well against both Canada and Italy A but were, in the end, winless.

Both sides have made changes, the USA notably making six but the side remains a shadow of being at full strength due to coach Eddie O'Sullivan missing a number of first choice players, especially in the backs. Aviva Premiership winning USA Eagle, Chris Wyles (Saracens) with miss the clash as will secondrower teammate Hayden Smith, Biarritz winger Taku Ngwenya, future Northampton secondrower Samu Manoa and USA veteran prop Mike MacDonald (Leeds Carnegie). As such it is to be a last chance saloon for a number of players who will take the field in place of the seasoned professionals. Of the changes, notable Lou Stanfill contines to be tried in different positions and this time will place at 8. This will enable the USA to have a superior scrum with John van der Giessen joining Scott LaValla in the secondrow. The backrow looms as being the key for the USA Eagles with Mexican born Iñaki Basauri joining Stanfill and captain Todd Clever. This sees regular backrower, Nic Johnson take a  place on the bench. With Stanfill starting at 8 the USA have gone for two backrowers on the bench with Johnson being joined by Pat Danahy and Stanfill likely to cover secondrow should it be neccessary. JJ Gagiano is to miss the clash through injury.

The backs also feature a number of changes with Cal Golden Bear fullback, Blaine Scully, replacing Roland Suniula who had a forgettable match vs Tonga. Blair Scully is a player to have come through the ranks of USA rugby. He is an All-American and played at the IRB Sevens World Series in 2009-2010 as well as being selected for the 2010 Churchill Cup. His chance vs Russia looms as do-or-die. A place in New Zealand 2011 depends on his performance. Scully will team up with Agen winger Kevin Swiryn and Colin Hawley in the back-three.

Prediction: A match that could go either way. The USA to win a close game by under 5 points.

USA Eagles

15 Blaine Scully (University of California - Berkeley)
14 Colin Hawley (Olympic Club)
13 Paul Emerick (Life University)
12 Andrew Suniula (Chicago Griffins)
11 Kevin Swiryn (Agen, France)
10 Nese Malifa (Glendale)
9 Mike Petri (Newport Gwent Dragons, Wales)
8 Louis Stanfill (Mogliano, Italy)
7 Todd Clever captain (Suntory Sungoliath, Japão)
6 Iñaki Basauri (L'Aquila, Italy)
5 Scott LaValla (Stade Francais, France)
4 John van der Giessen (Utah Warriors)
3 Shawn Pittman (London Welsh, England)
2 Chris Biller (San Francisco Golden Gate)
1 Mate Moeakiola (Bobigny 93, France)

Reserves: 16 Phil Thiel (Life University), 17 Eric Fry (Las Vegas Blackjacks), 18 Pat Danahy (Life University), 19 Nic Johnson (Unattached), 20 Tim Usasz (Nottingham, England), 21 Roland Suniula (Boston Rugby), 22 Tai Enosa (Belmont Shore)

Russia

15 I. Klyuchnikov
14 V. Artemyev
13 M. Babaev
12 A. Makovetsky
11 V. Ostroushko
10 Y. Kushnarev
9 A. Shakirov
8 V. Grachev
7 A. Garbuzov
6 A. Temnov
5 D. Antonov
4 A. Voytov
3 I. Prishchepenko
2 V. Korshunov (capitão)
1 S. Popov

Reserves: 16 V. Tsnobiladze, 17 A. Chernyshev, 18 A. Panasenko, 19 V. Gresev, 20 A. Bykanov, 21 A. Ryabov, 22 I. Galinovsky

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