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The Eagles beat Canada 41-23 at Twin Elms Rugby Park in Ottawa Saturday, constituting the USA’s first-ever winning streak over their northern neighbors. The Eagles had recorded back-to-back wins over Canada four times coming into the game, but not until Saturday did they ever win three in a row.
Canada had spells of ascendency at the beginning of both halves, and the hosts took the lead four minutes in after a pair of penalties gifted them a kick to the corner and a subsequent shot at goal. Gordon McRorie converted the opportunity, making it 3-0 to the hosts.
The Eagles got on the front foot for the first time in the 11th minute when Thretton Palamo stepped and burst through the line, offloading to a streaking Blaine Scully. The wing errantly dished to a Canadian player, but a penalty was awarded to the USA in the breakdown thereafter. MacGinty, who killed Canada with his boot a few weeks prior, missed the shot at goal.
Nathan Hirayama then extended the lead to 6-0 with a 25-meter drop goal, and the USA responded with a threatening possession, during which Palamo had a couple of useful runs. MacGinty wiggled his way through the line and looked for support with no luck. Blaine Scully then appeared to score, but he was deemed held up. A phase after the scrum, Greg Peterson battered through a first-up tackle for a try. MacGinty converted, putting the Americans up 7-6.
That lead was extended just a few minutes later when Nanyak Dala was pinged for playing the ball in a ruck offside, granting MacGinty a point-blank shot at the posts. He banged it through – USA 10-6 with seven minutes to play in the half.
The momentum continued for the Eagles, with Andrew Durutalo scoring to extend the lead. A well-worked play off a midfield scrum involving a give-and-go with MacGinty and Palamo set Chris Wyles into some space up field. He laid a kick, and a lucky bounce and a pass from Petri on the deck saw a streaking Durutalo run in untouched. MacGinty converted, making it 17-6 the USA’s way going into halftime.
Canada had a chance to chip away at the lead early in the second stanza when Scully was carded for tackling Taylor Paris in the air, but McRorie’s kick for posts was missed. Nevertheless, Canada worked the man advantage well, and Paris capped off a several-phase possession kick-started by John Moonlight for the hosts’ first try. McRorie missed the conversion – 17-11.
MacGinty then overcame his early kicking woes to make it a two-score game once again, knocking a penalty over from about 40 meters away to put the USA up 20-11. The frenetic pace continued even after Scully’s return, and Nick Blevins blew through a weak tackle attempt by Peterson and a desperate one from MacGinty for Canada’s second try. Hirayama missed the conversion, pulling Canada within four, 20-16.
Canada was called for obstruction on the ensuing kickoff, giving the USA an attacking lineout. Canada’s goal-line defense held strong, though, turning the ball over and clearing the threat. Canada then got on the front foot when reserve halfback Phil Mack was binned for stamping Chris Baumann in a ruck.
A series of punts and an elongated run of play went the USA’s way, as Wyles made a couple of probing counter attacks and Andrew Suniula stepped around a tired Aaron Carpenter and raced in for the Eagles’ first try of the second half. MacGinty hit the conversion to extend the lead to 27-16.
Mike Petri slammed the door shut with another try in the 75th minute. It came off the back of two-straight driving mauls from lineouts. The first was pulled down illegally by Ray Barkwill, and the second was stopped just short. Petri pulled from the mess and darted in. MacGinty converted to make it 34-16.
Canada’s scrum returned the favor with a driven maul try of its own in the 78th minute. Carpenter dotted down and Hirayama converted, but it was erased by an intercept try by Cam Dolan in the final minute. MacGinty’s successful conversion ended the contest.