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Team USA beat Canada 52-16 Saturday at Torero Stadium in San Diego to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Tokyo. The Eagle had to just win by a single point, but hammered the win home in captain Todd Clever’s final international match. The spoils are a meeting with England, Argentina, France and a team from Oceania in Tokyo.
The United States put on the pressure early, getting inside the Canadian 22 and staying there for the first couple of minutes. However, a knock-on resulted in Canada’s first ball.
Canada never won the territorial advantage, and in the eighth minute AJ MacGinty made a line break before lofting a cutout pass to Ryan Matyas on the wing. He deftly flicked it back inside to Bryce Campbell, who offloaded to Cam Dolan for the score. MacGinty missed the conversion, making it 5-0 to the Eagles.
In the 15th minute, Dolan got a second try. He hit a ruck about 10 meters out, then a crash off the ruck ended up on an offload back to Dolan, who dove in. MacGinty narrowly slotted the conversion, pushing the lead to 12-0.
Gordon McRorie put Canada on the board in the 20th minute, slotting three points after and American penalty. The result was a 12-3 advantage for the Eagles.
Dolan played a big part in the third try, too, as a Nick Civetta tapped back a lineout deep in the Canadian end, Dolan scooped the loose ball up and gashed Canada before offloading to Nate Brakeley for the score. MacGinty’s third kick was good, making it 19-3 with 18 to play.
Riding high, Dolan made a massive mental error to give Canada a big chance. Several seconds after the ball hit touch, he threw a football pass well inside to Madison Hughes, resulting in a penalty and an attacking five-meter lineout to Canada. The American defense ground the possession back, and MacGinty boomed a big kick to get his team’s heels off the line.
Canada’s defense held, and the Northerners conceded territory, just barely, and Canada boomed in a long-range penalty to narrow the gap to 13 points at 19-6. Canada’s scrum gained dominance late in the half, giving the visitors an attacking lineout and maul. They tried a cross kick for a score, but didn’t convert it. The ref issued Tony Lambor a yellow card, giving McRorie a shot at goal with time off. The kick was nailed – 19-9 at the break.
Canada rebutted in the opening minute of the second half. Mikey Te’o blitzed in from the wing, leaving his opposite uncovered. He cut in, beating the American defense and slicing straight in for Canada’s first try. The result was a three-point lead to the USA.
In the 52nd minute, Canada was called for not wrapping in the tackle. The Eagles punted to touch, and from more than 10 meters out they mauled the ball in, with reserve Joe Taufete’e touching down. MacGinty slotted the extra points, making it 26-16 with 25 minutes to play.
At the hour mark, Canadian penalties opened the door for the USA to extend the lead. Todd Clever elected to kick the ball to the corner instead of have MacGinty take a shot at goal. It panned out, as the pack mauled in, and Taufete’e dotted down a second-straight score, pushing the lead to 33-16.
The death knell sounded shortly thereafter, as Madison Hughes kept his feet and his composure under a high ball, it was shifted to Matyas, who scorched the Canadians on the edge and offloaded to Augspurger inside for the score. The conversion made it 40-16. Reserve prop Dino Waldren added another in minutes, after a big move by Te’o put the Americans on the front foot. With the conversion, the Eagles were up by 31. David Tameilau added a try in garbage time, pushing the winning margin further.