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Certainly they should expect better weather, and that will help them. But they also have a lot of work to do in the coming days to polish their offensive teamwork. Little things, like passing so a player runs onto the ball, or making a pass before your clock is cleaned, need to be nailed down. In addition, that pesky 8-9 move off the back of the scrum, which ended with a dropped ball twice, needs to be fixed.






The Eagles could have some overseas pros back in assembly soon, but not at present, and, really, the players should look at themselves to fix their issues.

The lineout wasn’t perfect, and it really, really helps for it to be perfect. Scott LaValla has been the lineout caller of recent times and has done an excellent job. He wasn’t in Edmonton. Neither was hooker Chris Biller, out injured. But that’s going to happen. You can’t depend on one or two particular players to run the lineout, so it was a useful exercise to have Zach Fenoglio take on the throwing and Brian Doyle take on the lineout calls. Depth of tactics and depth of decision-making is as important as depth of playing ability.

It’s also worth noting that the lineout got better as time went on.

In addition, players like Zach Fenoglio and Troy Hall got their first starts. Seamus Kelly got his first cap, as did Liam Murphy, and Adam Siddall. Clearly Canada targeted Siddall and the fullback has some learning to do, for sure.

Those moves off the scrum have to be straightened out, or perhaps they need a new approach. A scrum a few meters from the tryline is a gift, and shouldn’t be given back.

Offensively the Eagles have been much better. The number of times outside backs got the ball in space can be counted on one hand. James Paterson didn’t see the ball until the 60th minute. Part of that can be pinged on the #9 jersey, as Robbie Shaw, so dynamic and exciting in November, had a game that wasn’t up to that standard. Chiefly, the ball out of the rucks was slow, his running across the field to fix the defenders was too much and too slow, and he ran on his own too much. Not to be out-done, flyhalf Toby L’Estrange ran on his own too much, as well, and those decisions, along with almost every other runner’s decision to cut back into traffic, starved the outside backs of possession.

(It’s worth reminding oneself that international rugby is a jump up for everyone, and even for players playing overseas. Lower-tier club rugby in the UK or Ireland is nice, but after some time off, and with the speed of the game not up to international standard, even an experienced overseas-based player needs to make an adjustment. It’s fair to say most of the players on the USA team needed to make an adjustment.)

Defensively the USA essentially shut down the Canadians. That was good to see. They will need that defensive enthusiasm against Ireland, and will need to couple that with some precision. Early on the team fell off a few tackles, and during the Canada game they also found themselves misaligned. The line speed was good, but not uniform.

The video analysis session Monday morning wasn’t an easy one for many players, as they saw missed opportunities, and decisions that took the Eagles away from their game plan.

But it was just Game #1 in a long summer season. They know they can score tries, and they can play better. And some of the newer players now know what is asked of them.


Notes: Both Lou Stanfill and Todd Clever were involved in altercations Saturday with Canadian players. In both instances the American players were provoked and there will be no citing.