Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Aviva Premiership: USA Eagles shine in Northampton v Newcastle

Photo Rugby Wrap Up
USA Eagles Samu Manoa and Eric Fry were both involved in the round 12 Aviva Premiership fixture between the Northampton Saints and the Newcastle Falcons this past Friday at Franklin's Gardens. Both players produced noteworthy displays on defense and did so by playing technically sound rugby. Not only do both play in England but both are from Northern California and are expected to be starting for the USA Eagles at Rugby World Cup 2015. Fry was a squad member in Rugby World Cup 2011 and started against Australia.    

One of the fundamental positions in which the USA will be tested in 2015 is the front-row. The USA Eagles lack the quality of players at hooker and prop that are found elsewhere in the forwards. All four of the Eagles' 2015 Rugby World Cup opponents are noted for having reputable scrums and will target the area. The USA will need to adapt to hold firm and to also having agile props to win in other areas.

Starting at loosehead prop for Newcastle Fry demonstrated his developing game as he won a turnover by being the first man to a breakdown and beating Northampton back-rower Phil Dowson to the ball. Fry got his hands on the ball while the seven time capped English international tried to clear him out. The North American completed the turnover and off-loaded to Italian international Josh Furno who drove the Falcons forward.

Newcastle Falcons fly half Tom Catterick became the latest player to suffer a hard-hitting tackle from Samu Manoa. The USA Eagle put in a solid perfectly legal tackle on Catterick which was felt by the crowd. To his credit the fly half was able to off-load as Manoa closed in. In addition he also quickly got back to his feet and was able to play on. 

Manoa also came close to setting up a teammate in consecutive Aviva Premiership matches. In round 11 Manoa set-up Welsh international George North for a try which proved decisive in defeating the Harlequins at Twickenham. In round 12 the Californian created an opportunity with another charge-down, this time on Catterick. 

Having charged down the kick Manoa gathered the bounce and off-loaded in a tackle to put English international Luther Burrell in the clear. Burrell though was unable to score as he was tackled out into touch by Newcastle fullback Alex Tait. 

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