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The United States opened its home leg of the World Series with a 19-12 loss to Argentina Friday night at Sam Boyd Stadium. The Eagles started a large squad, including debutant Danny Barrett, and seemed intent on challenging Argentina to tackle them.
The confrontational strategy paid off early as Barrett powered through the perimeter of Argentina’s defense for the game’s opening try. The difficult conversion attempt was missed. The USA’s lumbering lineup was a detriment on defense, as the Americans had numbers to cover Argentina even in their own 22, but after a turnover at the ruck, the Argentine passes moved faster than the Eagles slide defense, resulting in a Diego Palma score.
The USA made another foray into the attacking end but couldn’t capitalize. Zack Test offloaded to Nick Edwards and the captain was under the posts, but the pass was forward, so they ended the half down two.
Argentina caught a break off the opening restart of the second stanza when it appeared to knock on the kick off, but the ref deemed the ball to be tipped back by the USA. The Eagles were immediately put on the back foot and seemed to be looking for the referee to call the knock, and Anibal Panceyra Garrido ran in a phase later for Argentina’s second score, this one not converted and Argentina 12-5.
USA coach Matt Hawkins brought on some speed to help close the gap in the second half, subbing Stephen Tomasin, Shalom Suniula and Carlin Isles on. Isles had some space on the wing very early in his time on the field, but Zack Test chose contact over passing it to the wing.
It wouldn’t take long for Isles to get involved, though. In the play of the game he ripped the ball from an Argentine ball carrier and passed off. He got the ball back in short order, dummied his way past one defender in a confined space and squeezed around another before racing off for a scintillating score. Shalom Suniula converted, pulling the Eagles level at 12-12.
Argentina would have the last laugh, though, as they forced Isles to knock
on in a backwards-pedaling ruck. The Eagles had taken a lineout on a
penalty, but were a little at sea in figuring out how to work it. Isles had
no space, and he and Pono Haitsuka were forced to try to ruck over.
Argentina’s scrumhalf committed two defenders and put Facundo Garrido in
for the winning score with no time left on the clock.
Tries: Barrett, Isles
Tries: A. Garrido, F. Garrido, Palma
Convs: Revol 2