Monday, June 25, 2012

USA 10-30 Italy, Houston

The USA Eagles broke new ground on Saturday evening with a record crowd of 17,241 attending the teams home match vs Italy in Houston, Texas. It set a record for the highest ever crowd in the United States of America for test rugby. It was a groundbreaking match all for the simple reason that it saw the USA, a Tier Two country, hosting Italy, a Tier One country. Such fixtures have been very rare since the advent of professionalism. The success of the occassion is a further indication of everything that can be gained from Argentina hosting Rugby World Cup 2023.  Whle Japan will be the first Tier Two host, in 2019 the Americas will be the only region to never have hosted a Rugby World Cup. 

Record Home Crowd in Houston

The USA Eagles proved to be up to the occassion and played a very good match, having a realistic change of a victory. In the end, however, it was spoiled thanks to both USA Eagles centres beign red carded which meant the home side had to endure the final fifteen minutes of the match without two players. Video footage of both incidents is avaliable below. The first occured in the 44th minute with inside centre, Andrew Suniula putting in a coffee book tackle on Riccardo Bocchino. While it was a great hit it was an illegal one and was too late to not receive a yellow card. A red card, however, appeared to be an exaggeration. At that point in time the USA were losing 20-10 and were performing well, pushing Italy hard. Paul Emerick was red carded  in the 65th minute for what referee Jerome Graces of France called a very dangerous tackle. USA captain, Todd Clever questioned the decision asking if it was only a red card. Graces was in a good position to make the call and Emerick certainly did make the tackle without using his arms. As such it was an illegal tackle. While it all but handed Italy the victory the referee is responsible, first and foremost, for player safety and it is unlikely that the IRB will disagree with the options he took.

The match started with disaster for the home side as the USA Eagles had a lineout throw on their own five metre line and opted to throw long. It was not taken and Italy were gifted a try with hooker Carlo Festuccia going over in just the third minute. Bocchino landed the conversion to put the Europeans 7-0 ahead. Bocchino and USA Eagles fullback, Chris Wyles exchanged penalties before the USA drew level in the 26th minute with a well worked try that saw Paul Emerick go over. Wyles added the converion and the scores were level. The Italians then went 3 poitns ahead with another Bocchino penalty before the outstanding Italian scrumhalf, Edoardo Gori backed up his try vs Argentina to go over. Bocchino again was on target with the conversion, making it 20-10 at the interval.   

Changes of a USA comeback were dented early on with Andrew Suniula´s sending off and Italy were unable to make use of a one man advantage. It took the sending off of Emerick for Italy to score points as the halftime scoreline remained in tact until the United States were down to thirteen players. Italy then landed a penalty to make it 23-10 after Wyles had had failed to land a kick in the 72nd minute. It indeed was a theme throughout the match just like it was vs Georgia. The USA Eagles need a better goalkicker with Will Holder seemingly the player to take the North Americans into Rugby World Cup 2015. Having defended well without both centres, the USA´ defence was breached at last in the 79th minute as replacement flyhalf, Kris Burton scored the only try of the half after he got through some tired defenders. With Bocchino´ conversion Italy were victorious by a 20 point margin. It was not a real reflection of the match at all and, more than anything else, the performance from the home team was a sign that the USA Eagles are in a good position to develop a strong team in time for England 2015.

15 Chris Wyles
14 James Paterson
13 Paul Emerick
12 Andrew Suniula 
11 Luke Hume
10 Roland Suniula
9 Mike Petri
8 Todd Clever
7 Scott LaValla
6 Taylor Mokate
5 Brian Doyle
4 Lou Stanfill
3 Eric Fry
2 Chris Biller
1 Shawn Pittman

Reserves: 16 Derek Asbun, 17 Mike MacDonald, 18 Andre Liufau, 19 Andrew Durutalo, 20 Mose Timoteo, 21 Will Holder, 22 Colin Hawley

15 Luke McLean
14 Giovambattista Venditi
13 Roberto Quartaroli
12 Luca Morisi
11 Tommaso Benvenuti
10 Riccardo Bocchino
9 Edoardo Gori
8 Robert Barbieri
7 Mauro Bergamasco
6 Alessandro Zanni
5 Joshua Furno
4 Antonio Pavanello
3 Martín Castrogiovanni
2 Carlo Festuccia
1 Alberto De Marchi
2 Carlo Festuccia

Reserves: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Tommaso D’Apice, 19 Simone Favaro, 20 Tito Tebaldi, 21 Kris Burton, 22 Alberto Sgarbi

Match Highlights

Red Cards

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