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Chris Wyles and Toby L'Estrange were in very different situations going into last weekend's USA v. Russia match.
Wyles was earning his 30th cap for the Eagles, and would reach 82 international points thanks to the 15 he scored Friday on a try and five conversions.
L'Estrange was making his debut for the United States. Both were playing key skill roles. L'Estrange played flyhalf and was in charge of directing the offense and defense, as well as a lot of the kicking for territory. Wyles was in charge of handling the Russian kicking game at fullback, helping direct behind the line, and handled the goalkicking.
Two different player backgrounds, two relatively similar roles, and a victory for the USA.
"I thought for the majority of the game we played really well," Wyles told RUGBYMag.com. "I feel that the most encouraging aspect was our ability to finish off our opportunities and score tries. We've struggled with our execution in the past, so to get six tries was great."
Both Wyles and L'Estrange scored tries in the game, both thanks to some nifty passing from scrumhalf Robbie Shaw.
"It was nice to get over for a try!" said Wyles. "Robbie threw a great pass and I was able to take the space and break through. We knew that the Russians had big forwards who would tire throughout the game so we wanted to exploit those spaces."
"I was happy, on the whole, with Friday," L'Estrange told RUGBYMag.com. "It
was a pretty special night for both [Robbie and me]. Having said that, the
last 20 minutes was pretty disappointing and we've addressed the areas that
let us down and know we'll have to put together a full 80 minutes to come
out out with the right result against the Tongans."
Wyles echoed that sentiment, which has been running through the entire team.
"We needed to finish the game off," he said. "Moving forward it's important
that we keep our concentration for the full 80 if want to win the closer
One interesting point about the game for Wyles and L'Estrange was that Wyles handled the goalkicking duties. It actually looked like L'Estrange might be the man for that, but Wyles did superbly well, converting five of six tries.
"I was really happy with how the goalkicking went," said Wyles, fully aware that an accurate goalkicker helps keep the opposition honest. "It's a huge challenge for me - I don't kick at my club so it's difficult to get any consistency and rhythm. But those extra points can be crucial so it's important I kick well."