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Four tries paced the Eagles to a 29-10 bonus-point win over Canada Saturday at Papa Murphy’s Park in Sacramento, Calif. in the second round of the Americas Rugby Championship. The win sees the USA improve to 4-0 all-time at Papa Murphy’s Park and extend its current unbeaten streaks, both against Canada and in the ARC, to eight.
Wing Ryan Matyas scored a brace, flanker Hanco Germishuys delivered a powerful performance in his second-consecutive start, and reserve halfbacks Shaun Davies and Will Hooley provided spark off the bench once again. Dylan Audsley and Hooley picked up their first official test caps, having debuted in an uncapped match last week against the Argentina XV.
The win makes the Eagles 2-0 with nine points on the ARC table, right alongside Uruguay. Los Teros also beat Canada, qualifying for the World Cup in the process, and followed it up with a win over Brazil. The Eagles have one more home stand next week against Chile at Cal State Fullerton before heading to South America to finish off against Brazil and Uruguay.
Early on, the Eagles whiffed on a kick, but Will Magie would pin the Canadians deep in their end with a successful one a minute later. Canada knocked on under pressure, giving the Eagles attacking platform, but Bryce Campbell tried an ill-advised backhanded offload, which went behind Matyas and resulted in a knock-on, bailing Canada out.
The visitors cleared their lines, but the Eagles won their lineout and went back on the offensive. Off a ruck on the right-hand side of the field, scrumhalf Nate Augspurger saw an opening on the weakside, stiff-arming a defender en route to a clever score. Magie converted the score, putting the Eagles up 7-0 after eight minutes.
Matyas would score off the next no-look flick pass, this one came from Dylan Audsley who was tied up in contact. The next pass was short to a streaking Matyas, who sliced through the Canadian defense for the try. Magie slotted a second-straight conversion, which was impressive considering the stiff wind, putting the Eagles up 14-0 about 17 minutes in.
Canada responded a few minutes later with short-range try by Pat Parfrey. The ageless Phil Mack got the Eagles on the front foot with a carry through the guys of the American defense, at the end of which he offloaded to DTH van der Merwe, who carried it further. Several phases later, it was a touch pass from van der Merwe that put Parfrey over. The conversion was good, cutting the difference in half.
Most of the rest of the half was filled with plodding Canadian attack and a lot of American tackles, but just before the halftime whistle, the Eagles appeared to be away for a third try. Cam Dolan shook free and tried to squeeze and offload that would have surely wound up as a score, but it didn’t find hands.
Two minutes into the second half, Nate Brakeley got caught in a ruck after making a tackle on the USA’s defensive 40, giving Canada’s Brock Staller a shot at goal with the wind behind his back. It sailed comfortably through, cutting the American lead to 14-10.
The tailwind helped the Canadians make a deep kick, but it helped the Eagles when a clearance kick from Canada dribbled through the end zone from 80 meters downfield. The result was an American scrum 18 meters from pay dirt. Audsley had the first carry off the set piece, then Cam Dolan ate up a few more yards. Eventually the Eagles were held up.
Gold swapped Ben Landry’s fresh legs for Brakeley’s tired ones, and the USA won the scrum. A few rucks later the Eagles would cough the ball up somehow, allowing Canada to clear its lines. The counter attack made strides before a knock-on gave the visitors the ball near midfield. They kicked it out on the full, though, and the USA had an attacking lineout.
Campbell took a switch off Magie to bludgeon a few tacklers off the set piece, and a couple of phases later the young bull, Hanco Germishuys, rumbled his way through multiple Canadians en route to a try. Magie slotted a third conversion, putting the USA up 21-10 with 26 minutes to play.
Gold swapped halfbacks before the kickoff, bringing Hooley in at standoff and Davies at scrumhalf. Hooley made an impact quickly, threading a beautiful double cutout pass to Audsley, who made a big gash. Hooley connected on a miss pass with Audsley again, and this time he dished to the Kiwi flanker, Tony Lamborn. Canada was offside at the next ruck, and Hooley took a shot at goal. It twisted outside a swaying upright, not disturbing the score line.
Mack was visibly growing frustrated with the referee, at one point pleading to assistant referee Derek Summers for a call. That manifested itself in a penalty against Mack in a ruck. The referee had to have a word with the scrumhalf to calm him down, and Hooley banged over a penalty afterwards – 24-10.
The chippiness continued and saw Cam Dolan sent to the sin bin. In a raucous flurry of a tackle, Dolan picked up and dropped a Canadian. In the ensuring ruck, Nick Blevins threw and uppercut at Dolan. Assistant referee Phil Akroyd brought the fracas to the center ref’s attention, and the TMO caught Dolan’s infraction.
Matyas bagged a second try in the 75th minute to deliver a bonus point and ice the result. Germishuys stole the ball in a breakdown, and the Eagles took possession deep in the attacking end. Hooley called for a pullout pass from Andrew Durutalo, and Hooley shipped it wide where it found Matyas – 29-10.