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The USA won its first-ever meeting with Germany, 46-17, in Frankfurt Saturday. Though the final score looks flattering, and the Eagles managed seven tries, it didn’t look like it would go that way for the first 39 minutes. Germany captured the lead in the 12th minute and would hold onto it until the final seconds of the first half, but the Americans mustered a strong second stanza for the emphatic win.
Germany had ascendancy physically and territorially for the opening spell. The USA was less than cohesive, but luckily Germany couldn’t hold onto the ball long enough to punish sloppy American play. The first prime scoring opportunity came in the sixth minute when AJ MacGinty lined up a penalty from about 40 meters out, but it sailed wide, leaving the game scoreless.
The home team was able to capitalize on the pressure it had been creating in the 12th minute. The Eagles were unable hold onto the ball with their backs against the wall, and poor handling and eager German defense led to the opening score.
The ball squirted out of a contentious scrum at the USA’s defensive five meter line, scrumhalf Shaun Davies hovered over the ball to try and convince everyone it was still in the ruck, but he was blasted off the ball and Germany picked it up and dove in for the try. The conversion was good, 7-0.
The scored seemed to spark the Americans into action, as they strung together some line-breaking phases together for the first time in the game shortly after the restart. The pressure resulted in a penalty against the Germans, and this time MacGinty slotted the three points. After 17 minutes, the USA trailed 7-3.
Germany erased that score in the 23rd minute with a penalty. As they had all game, the Eagles exhibited poor handling and kicking, letting Germany live in the attacking end. Like last time, getting scored on lit a fire under the Eagles, and they enjoyed their second quality attacking possession of the game, leading to MacGinty’s second penalty, bringing the score to 10-6 in the 27th minute.
The hosts went back on the offensive pretty quickly. Following a desperate clearing kick from Mike Te’o deep in his own end, Germany put together an effective maul off a lineout, but Nick Civetta did well to fight through the mess of bodies and tie the ball up, winning the USA the scrum.
The Eagles put phases together in the attacking end in the 35th minute, executing a set play off a scrum before Andrew Durutalo made a surge through the defense. However, five meters from pay dirt, the Eagles were penalized in the breakdown, letting Germany clear its lines.
Ben Landry put in some impressive defensive work to regain possession in short order. The 6’5” flanker closed space very quickly on a German back, made a positive-grade open-field tackle and was immediately over the ball. Germany had to leave its feet to deal with Landry, drawing a penalty. After the touch finder, the USA was in the red zone, and following a series of point-blank runs, it was captain Blaine Scully slipping through a crease for the try right on halftime. MacGinty converted, making it 13-10 at the break.
The Eagles kept their tails up through the intermission, patiently working several phases deep inside the German end. The man who pierced the line was Shaun Davies. He darted upfield just off the ruck from five meters away, stretched the ball out toward the line and placed it. It rolled backwards, and Joe Taufete’e scooped it up and dove over. It was unclear if Davies or Taufete’e actually scored, but it was a try nonetheless – 20-10.
The accidental duo struck again in short order. Off a deep offensive lineout, the Eagles sprinted a maul towards the try line before Germany submarined it. Taufete’e broke off on his own and had the ball ripped from his grasp. It flopped into the air, and Davies snatched and dove in for the score. MacGinty converted, putting the USA up 27-10.
In a matter of about 10 minutes on either side of halftime, the Eagles turned a four-point deficit into a 17-point lead.
The Eagles had a couple of more opportunities quickly, but didn’t convert them. With several subs coming on, the USA would add to its tally in the 62nd minute when MacGinty laid a perfect grubber from 22 meters out, and Ryan Matyas bumped his German opposite out of the way while simultaneously gathering the ball in the try zone. The corner kick was missed – 32-10.
The reserves showed well on the next possession, with John Quill making the initial break, offloading to Peter Malcolm. From that tackle, Nate Augspurger had a run. Eventually, it would be Will Magie slipping a ball behind prop Paddy Ryan to MacGinty, now at inside center, for the try. MacGinty converted, pushing the lead to 39-10 with just over 10 to play.
Germany would score pretty quickly, but the result wouldn’t ever be in doubt. Right on full time, the Eagles mauled one last score in, this time Malcolm doing the honors. MacGinty nailed the conversion.