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Team USA pushed its 2018 test record to 9-0 (10-1 overall) with a 31-5 defeat of Romania Saturday in Bucharest. The Eagles let several scoring opportunities go to waste in the opening half, but they buttoned up their performance in the second stanza, blanking Romania 19-0.
Romania dominated in one phase of the game, the scrum, but the Americans were better in every other facet. Romania’s defense started strong, but the USA’s big ball carriers eventually softened the Oaks.
The Eagles were content to play territory early, with Ruben de Haas hoisting several box kicks in the opening 10 minutes. The Eagle offense didn’t gain much ground with ball in hand in those opening minutes, partially because De Haas struggled to get the ball out of the rucks cleanly.
In the 11th minute, things opened up for the Eagles after a few crashes from inside center Paul Lasike led to a break. He pierced the Oaks defensive line with an inward crash line, offloading to Tony Lamborn, who offloaded again. De Haas had no problem plucking the ball from that ruck, darting into pay dirt from short range for the game’s first try.
Will Magie’s kick was no good, making it 5-5. Romania leveled the table within a matter of minutes. The Oaks lulled the USA into over folding toward the strong side, Romania reversed field swiftly, catching the Eagles under-resourced. The Oaks flooded into the corner for the tying try, which would also go unconverted. After 15 minutes, the game was knotted at 5-5.
The Eagles regained the lead through a set piece plat in the 23rd minute. Off a scrum inside the attacking 22, Lasike crashed again, drawing the attention of the Oaks enough to make room for Campbell on a short ball. The former Hoosier All-American fell just short of the line, but stretched the ball over for the try. This time Magie converted, making it 12-5 to the USA.
The pressure continued to mount for Romania, manifesting in a knock-on deep in the defensive end, giving the Eagles a point-blank attacking scrum. They were held up on their first attempt, resulting in a second scrum.
Lasike didn’t penetrate this time, and Magie sailed a cross kick to the corner for Blaine Scully. The captain caught it in the air but was shoved out of bounds before landing. That was a penalty, but advantage was being held from a scrum infringement, and Scully opted to go back to that.
The Oaks picked up another penalty, this one offsides, with their heels on their own try line, but just a warning was given. The Eagles lost their bind on a maul, drawing a penalty allowing Romania to clear its lines after a long defensive stand.
The Eagles looked to be away for a third try when John Quill ripped the ball from the Romanian inside center, causing a turnover from which de Haas attacked and set up Scully for a score. But Quill was off his feet on the turnover, caught on replay. The Romanian ball carrier was also penalized off the replay, with his forearm striking Cam Dolan above the shoulders. The result was a yellow card for the Oak.
De Haas continued to struggle with getting the ball from the breakdown, this time blatantly knocking on deep in the attacking end, ruining another scoring opportunity. Having spent most of the previous 10 minutes in the right end of the field, the USA had nothing to show for it.
The Eagles finally got their third try a few minutes into the second half when De Haas put up a box kick under pressure, Romania let it bounce, and wing Ryan Matyas caught it off a fortuitous bounce, racing in for the score. Magie slotted the easy conversion, putting the Eagles 12 points clear.
Campbell picked up his second try in the 56th minute, capitalizing on a line break from reserve flanker Hanco Germishuys. The Eagles had earned an overload and sent it wide, Germishuys stepped inside the outside defender, committed the fullback and fed Campbell. The conversion attempt was missed – 24-5.
Romania appeared to get it back immediately, cutting the deficit to two scores. A Romanian appeared to be offside in an uncontested ruck when he picked the ball up, starting the movement. The penalty was caught on replay, nullifying the score.
Magie got his cross kick try in the 77th minute. The strong Eagle pack wore the Oaks down, and several phases into another punishing possession. Magie popped a kick over the defensive line for a wide open Tim Maupin, who ran in easily for the score. Magie added the conversion, making it 31-5.