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Abel Barrientes photo

The USA Eagles fell to Samoa in their first match of the Pacific Nations Cup, 21-16.

Titi Lamositele was the lone try scorer for the Eagles, and scored it in the final ten minutes. A last-ditch effort to tie the game proved unsuccessful as Samoa held on for a hard-fought victory.

Samoa got out to a fast start in this one, controlling the pace and playing a very up-tempo game. In the fourth minute, a penalty deep in the USA 22 allowed Patrick Faapale to take an easy penalty goal to give Samoa the early lead. They would tack on another penalty goal about 10 minutes later to go up by six points.

The Eagles struggled to maintain possession throughout the half, as any efforts to get close to the try line were cut short by bad turnovers. In the 22nd minute, the USA caught a break when a penalty in the ruck allowed AJ MacGinty to put a penalty goal through to cut the deficit to three. However, just two minutes later, a penalty on the other end allowed Samoa to extend their lead to 9-3.

Captain Alesana Tuilagi was a workhorse for Samoa. In the early moments, he nearly scored a try after barreling over a few Eagles players, but was pushed out at the last second.

More USA turnovers cost them fantastic opportunities late in the half. After MacGinty sent the ball deep down the field in the 32nd minute, Ah See Tuala went on a speedy run, and offloaded to Tuilagi who burst across the try line to extend Samoa’s lead. A conversion extended the lead to 16-3. Just five minutes later, an offside penalty deep in the Eagles 22 allowed Tuilagi to chip the ball over to Tuala, who waltzed across the try line for Samoa’s second score of the match. It was 21-3 Samoa at the half.

The Eagles started the second half with their best chance of the match. A maul following a line out in the 45th minute brought them so close to the try line, but they just could not break through. That missed opportunity frustrated the USA, as they tried desperately to get back near the line, but continued to turn the ball over and make very costly mistakes.

After MacGinty added two more penalty goals to bring the score to 21-9 in favor of Samoa, the USA kept the pressure on in the Samoan 22. Multiple players, including MacGinty, got very close to the try line, but just couldn’t finish the play.

Injuries hampered the Eagles in this half, as lock Hayden Smith went down with an apparent shoulder injury. However, reserves like Mike Petri and Zach Test played fantastic rugby in the second half.

In the final minutes, the Eagles finally broke through, as they put a lot of bodies near the try line, and Lamositele broke through to put the USA within five points. Nearing the final horn, the Eagles desperately tried to get that tying try. They got as close as 10 meters to the line, but were called for not releasing the ball as the horn sounded.

The Eagles get back in action on Friday, July 24th against Japan. 

Comments

I watched the game yesterday. Here's the message that I sent to coach Tolkin today: Subject: What I Didn't See... ...at the game. Maybe you could pass it along because I haven't seen any compleat recaps of the game where I could make a comment except for a New Zealand Herald quip with a Tuilangi diving try photo and a lame couple of paragraphs from RugbyMag. I never saw the team rosters for any of the players in any of the games. I couldn't even find a program until I learned that I had to walk 3/4 of the way around the stadium to the Main Gate where they were being sold. How inconvenient. Inside the program, I expected to see the player rosters with the usually important stats like their name, jersey number, position, hometown, age, height, weight, college/univ./club side, years played, rep appearances, etc... points of interest that you could read, you know? How is someone supposed to follow the game without this information? What in the world would anyone know about the Japanese team players, or the Canada players or even the Samoan players where they have never been seen before? You can say the same about the American players. Who knows anything about them? Certainly it's not the American rugby journalists because they don't know anything about the game either. What I didn't see in the game were fans sitting in the entire north side of the stadium that was in the shade. What's up with that. Did someone decide that they wanted to portray happy, sun-burned fans crowded together in the blazing hot sun? Another thing I didn't see was the American position of passing the ball out to the backline players primarily because the ball never got past the #10 player (no program, no name) because he constantly kicked away possession. I didn't see more than once the inside center, the outside center or the two wings touch or carry the ball. I once saw Ngwenya make a long break. In all, it was a disappointment. I didn't see Louis Stanfill. Whatever you say, Hayden Smith and that other clumsy lock made little or no impression on the outcome of the game. Pitiful..! I'm sorry but I didn't (haven't) seen Eric Fry do much beyond two steps carrying the ball that would turn into yet another unproductive pile or, in the set piece, a collapsed scrum. I didn't witness any thinking process on the part of the (captain) fullback when he kicked the ball to touch (fail) with a penalty advantage in progress inside their own 22m. and the ball was fielded by the opposition and was thereupon immediately taken to score. What's up with that thinking? And finally, with the clock running at 60:00, I didn't see anyone hustling around to get to the set play lineouts or scrummages. More than once, they used up valuable time not calling out the option choices, meandering around without purpose or exhibiting a immediacy of the game and "hustling" to a lineout but, rather, "sauntering" (yes, walking 20 meters to the touch line) as if there was no hurry whastoever. That is a discrace..! You should've put Zach Test in at the 60:00. He's the only one that engaged in the game that I saw. Other than that, for me, it was an unpleasant experience. The tailgating in VIP parking lot was good. Because I took the time to care.... Tyrus G. XNo1BATS, '72-'84
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Here's a practical pointer. Tolkin probably doesn't design the match day program, let alone have anything to do with the marketing/publicity. You apparently didn't watch the second half of the match where we quit kicking possession away and scored 13 points (also leaving a few others on the board). It was a game that could have been won. The first half also showed the lack of assembly time, whereas the team had jelled somewhat in the second half. Additionally, the point of this entire 7-match lead up to the World Cup is to sort out the roster. You can't do that if your players aren't getting match time. I'm sure your boy Stanfill will get minutes to prove to you just how useless those two full-time professional locks that started are. If you think Zach Test was the only one to engage the game, I think you really need to get your eyes checked. Scully was all over. Barrett had a good game. Quill was getting stuck in at the breakdown and doing the hard work. One last thing. Slowing down the game against a team who wants to play fast isn't a disgrace, it's called tactical decision making. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. However, we seemed to shut down Samoa's offense in the second half.
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