Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rugby World Cup 2011 - USA defeat Russia 13-6

The Battle of the Cold War delivered as the United States of America and Russia produced a enterprising match in New Plymouth on Thursday evening. It was Russia´s first ever match in Rugby World Cup history and the players were very emotional during the pre-match national anthem. Russia performed well, pickign up a bonus point and showed that the team is going to be one for the future. The USA were looking for nothing less than a victory after having defeated Russia in June 2010 and June 2011. On both occassions, Russia had been competitive but the USA had finished the matches stronger. Today´s match, was different altogether, however, as wet conditions had the biggest say on how the match unfolded with both sides losing the ball continuously.

Russia scored the first points of the match after the Europeans had charged down an early attempt at a clearance kick from USA scrumhalf, Mike Petri. Flyhalf Yury Kushnarev kicked the penalty from alongside the posts. Russia had come close to scoring following the charge-down and looked ominous but the USA Eagels were able to defend their ground. Thereafter, the USA looked the better side for the entire first half and scored all the remaining points. The returning fullback, Chris Wyles, was chosen as the goalkicker for the North Americans and he amde the scores 3-3 with a penalty in the 12th minute. The USA were having the better of play with centres Andrew Suniula, Paul Emerick and fullback Chris Wyles all looking dangerous with ball in hand. Suniula broke the line in the 19th minute and severla passes latter scrumhalf Mike Petri was able to hand of a defender to score a try. It would be the only try of the game but was one of the best of the Rugby World Cup so far. Wyles added the conversion to put the Eagles 10-3 ahead and scores stayed this way until halftime.

After the interval playing conditions had deteriorated following a down-pour of rain and it could be seen in the early stages of the second half as both sides made handling errors. Russia won an early penalty but were unable to turn it into points as Kushnarev missed the kick at goal. The USA were again having the better of play and came close to scoring in the 55th minute following a clean linebreak to inside centre, Andrew Suniula. He broke clear and was tackled less than one metre from the tryline. The Eagles had an opportunity afterwards to score and hit it up through the forwards but the rain won the fight following a knock-on to Taku Ngwenya as he attempted to offload in a tackle. The USA continued fighting and had two opportunities in the next five minutes only for Wyles to kick a penalty attempt rebound off the posts and for a dropgoal attempt to just miss. Wyles made amends however, as he slotted a penalty in the 64th minute penalty to give the USA Eagles a ten point lead.

Rusisa had opportunities as the USA did not have the same control after Wyles´s conversion and the Europeans were camped in the Eagles half for the next seven minutes. In the 71st Kushnarev had a chance to cut the gap to seven points but was unsuccessful. Russia continued winning penalties and had a great opportunity in the 73rd minute as the kicked for the corner but USA secondrower John van der Giessen showed his worth by stealing the throw, just like he had done twice in the first half. The USA got out of jail but were unable to leave their own half as the side appeared to be exhausted following the match vs Ireland on Sunday. Russia continued to press hard and centre Konstantin Rachkov took the next shot at goal and was successful in the 77th minute to cut the Eagles´ lead to seven points. The final few minutes saw Russia hot on attack and the Bears broke clear down the left-hand touchline and looked dangerous. The USA, thoguh, held firm and were able to slow down the ball and come away with a well earned 13-6 victory.

Many players did well for the United States but it was the forwards who won them the match. The secondrowers of John van der Giessen and Hayden Smith performing especially well as did Lou Stanfill, Nic Johnson and captain Todd Clever. But it was loosehead prop and the most capped player of all time, Mike MacDonald was man of the match. The win put the USA in joined second place in the group with Ireland while Russia pick up a bonus point for losing by seven points or less to sit in fourth place ahead of their next opponents, Italy. The USA now have an eight day break before facing Australia in Wellington on Friday next week while Russia take on Italy in Nelson in five days time. The battle for top spot on the pool sees Australia facing Ireland in Auckland on Saturday.

Pool C Standings

1 Australia 5
2 Ireland 4
3 USA 4
4 Russia 1
5 Italy 0

Mike Perti Try

Day Highlights

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