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Victor Hugo, Sports News

Team USA led Chile to the slaughter in their Americas Rugby Championship opener, beating Los Condores 71-8. The Eagles led 38-3 at the half. The emphatic bonus-point win sees them to 1-0 with five points atop the ARC table, where they’ve finished the last two years.

In total, nine Eagles accounted for 11 tries. Upon return from injury, flyhalf AJ MacGinty scored three of them, chipping in six conversions for a total of 27 points on the day. Reserve flyhalf Tadhg Leader bagged a try and two conversions on debut.  

Despite the lopsided result, head coach Gary Gold was chuffed to not have played cleaner, as the Eagles left multiple scores on the table.

“On a scale of 1-10, I think it was a solid 6.5 performance. When we did what we set out to do, I thought we were very effective,” said Gold.

“We did put them under a lot of pressure, but I think we made a lot of soft tackles and gave them a lot of momentum. In saying that, I think our defensive structure was very good. I just don’t think we were very good at our physicality in the collisions.”

To kick open the floodgates, Joe Taufete’e matched Keith Wood’s international try record for hookers with a score off the back of a point-blank maul from an attacking lineout in the third minute. The Eagles didn’t let Chile touch the ball the two minutes leading up to the score, with an offside penalty giving the USA the kick to the corner. AJ MacGInty missed the conversion, making it 5-0.

MacGinty scored shortly off another Chilean penalty three minutes later. Scrumhalf Shaun Davies quick tapped to put Los Condores on the back foot, and MacGinty jinked his way through a fractured defensive line for the score. This time he nailed the conversion, putting the Eagles up 12-0.

Chile mounted its first attack in the 10th minute. A series of long kicks to one another was ended by Los Condores, who attacked up the left touch line before opting for an up-and-under inside the attacking 22. They knocked on the gather, allowing the Eagles to clear their lines.

The Eagles weren’t able to establish territory again before losing the ball in contact in their own end. Chile scooped up the loose ball, and several phases later, the Eagles were pinged for being offside at the try line. Francisco Gonzalez lined up an easy penalty and put Chile on the board, cutting the USA’s lead to nine with 13 minutes to halftime.

The Eagles then ripped off 21 straight points through three converted tries over the next eight minutes. Inside center Paul Lasike caught an offload from wing Marcel Brache for the first, lock Nick Civetta exploited a gap in the Chilean defense for the second, and Davies touched down the third. Hanco Germishuys capped the first half by steamrolling three Condores over 10 meters for yet another try in the corner, putting the Eagles up 38-3 at the break.

It took six minutes, but the USA picked up where it left off with a MacGinty try. Lasike barreled through a few tackles for the initial penetration. MacGinty sailed it wide behind a couple of forwards and followed his pass, being rewarded with an inside ball for the score.

Chile then mustered its only try of the day before MacGinty capped off the hat-trick, earning a trip to the bench. Leader had most of the work done for him on his try, and De Haas took a long support line to score his.

Up next for the USA is likely the toughest test of the competition against Argentina XV Saturday in Rio Negro.

USA 71-8 Chile
Tries (11): Taufete’e, MacGinty (3), Lasike, Civetta, Davies, Germishuys, Leader, De Haas, Dolan
Convs (8): MacGinty (6), Leader (2)

Scoring Sequence
5-0 Taufete’e Try
12-0 MacGinty Try / MacGinty Conv
12-3 Chile Pen
19-3 Lasike Try / Conv
26-3 Civetta Try / Conv
33-3 Davies Try / Conv
38-3 Germishuys Try
45-3 MacGinty Try / Conv
45-8 Chile Try
52-8 MacGinty Try / Conv  
59-8 Leader Try / Leader Conv
64-8 De Haas Try  
71-8 Dolan Try / Leader Conv