Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rugby World Cup 2011 - Italy 27-10 USA

Post Match captains shake hands
With an eye to the future it is safe to suggest that one of the most interesting games of Rugby World Cup 2011 was Italy vs the USA. It was the third pool match for the Italians while the USA Eagles were playing for the final time in the tournament. Italy had come off a loss against Australia and a good win vs Russia and had been well rested to take on the North Americans. Scheduling had not been so kind to the USA who had faced Australia only four days earlier. The demands of backing up led coach Eddie O´Sullivan to field a second-string team vs the Wallabies with reserves and players making up the squad numbers being given game time while most of the first choice players, including captain Todd Clever and vice-captain Mike Petri, were rested.

The policy of resting players proved successful as the USA pushed Italy hard in most areas of the game. The one area in which the USA were unable to compete was at the scrum with Italy´s Argentine born tighthead prop, Martín Castrogiovanni having a field day. Castrogiovanni was man of the match. Around the park in general the USA proved to be a worthy opponent for the Six Nations side. The team was highly competitive at the breakdown with Todd Clever and Lou Stanfill forming a solid backrow combination. The secondrow of John van der Giessen and Hayden Smith also proved to be highly effective at lineout time, with ball in hand and when tackling. It was in the backs, however, that the USA were winning praise with the New Zealand commentary team as well as the Irish (as seen in the following video) speaking highly of the Eagles backs, especially centre Paul Emerick. The 31 year old had a solid World Cup which included scoring the first try for his team in the tournament, vs Ireland. He set up his sides final try which was scored by fullback Chris Wyles who also had a solid match and tournament.

It was the final World Cup for a number of players with Italy´s side packed with veterans who will be replaced in the coming years in time for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England. The USA fielded a team that could very well be similar to the side which plays in the next World Cup. While some players will nto be around any longer and others will likely be replaced, the majority are liekly to remain in tact including captain Todd Clever.

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