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The defending Americas Rugby Championship titleists rallied to beat Argentina XV 17-10 Saturday at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. in dramatic fashion. The win makes the Eagles 1-0 and delivers them their first-ever ARC victory over the Argentines. The first two years of the competition, they drew. The win also makes the team 1-0 under new head coach Gary Gold.
The Eagles made the game’s first serious foray into the attacking end. The first few minutes saw both teams trade deep kicks, and the USA got the best of the exchange when Argentina was called offside when one player scooped up a kick from an onside position. Argentina was called for three more penalties, while the Eagles knocked on the door.
The game paused around the five-minute-mark when Marcel Brache was submarined by a late, no-wrap hatchet job of a tackle by the Argentine inside center. Brache subbed out for debutant Dylan Audsley, and the offender was lucky to only be shown a yellow card. Will Magie teed up a shot at goal from 22 meters out but slightly left of center, and the kick was pulled left, giving Argentina a 22-meter-dropout.
Argentina got its first crack at points a couple of minutes later This one also looked bankable, but it too was missed, leaving the game knotted at 0-0 after 10 minutes.
With both teams back at full strength, Argentina was called offside in the defensive end. Magie lined up another shot at goal, and this one Magie banged over, putting the Eagles up 3-0 with 17 minutes gone.
Shortly after the restart, Nate Augspurger attempted a box kick but had it charged down. On the ensuing scrum, Titi Lamositele had his opposite off the ground entirely, but the referee decided Lamositele had scrummaged illegally, driving up instead of straight. Then the Saracen was sent off for a high tackle. Argentina opted for a scrum instead of a kick for points just about seven meters from the try line
Huluholo Moungaloa then came on, and the Argentines walked the ball to the whitewash, but the referee stopped the game for some reason, resetting a point-blank scrum. The Eagles showed some resilient defense on the next series of phases, but someone was called offside. This time, Argentina took the three points and cashed in.
With the USA under pressure and the Argentines inside the attacking five meter, Cam Dolan went for an interception and knocked on. The sir called it intentional, giving Dolan a yellow card and the Argentines an attacking five-meter scrum. Off the set piece, the opposition No. 8 dotted down the first try of the game. With the conversion, Argentina led 10-3 going into the break.
Magie opened the second half with an early penalty, cutting the lead to six. Argentina appeared to answer with a try in the 45th minute. The Eagles were penalized in their own end, and after the ball squirted out the back of a ruck, the No. 8 scooped it up, stepped inside Joe Taufete’e and dove over from five meters out. However, it was called back because of a neck roll in that final ruck, allowing the Eagles to clear their lines.
The punt didn’t find touch, though, and Argentina was quickly back in the attacking end. However, the last pass before pay dirt was affected by Blaine Scully, helping force a knock-on. The Eagles put their best possession of the match together, with Scully tapping a high kick back to Nate Brakeley. Several phases later, Nate Augspurger knocked on the pickup inside the Argentine 22.
A booming, perfectly weighted kick by Mike Te’o put the Eagles in the attacking end around the 5th minute, and their strong defense kept them moving forward. Eventually, Argentina buckled under the pressure, with an out pass soaring over the head of a kicker positioned in the pocket, dribbling through the try zone.
The Eagles a scrum penalty on the first pack down, electing for another. The ref got in the way on the next spell of play, resulting in another scrum, this one about eight meters from the try line. Two phases later, Tony Lamborn picked up quickly from the ruck, went weak, shucked two arm tackles and dove in. Magie’s kick was off – 11-10 with 20 minutes to play.
In the 67th minute a massive maul fueled by fresh legs drove the Eagles back into the Argentine end. Andrew Durutalo, who came on for Lamborn, made a big carry and then put in work at the next ruck, in which Argentina would be penalized. Reserve flyhalf Will Hooley got his first points as an Eagle, extending the lead to 14-10.
In the 74th minute, after a pair of poor kicks from Hooley, made a dangerous counterattack. They had numbers in space, but Cam Dolan worked back and intercepted what would have been the finishing pass at around the American 22, saving a try.
The Eagles went swiftly the other way, with Durutalo making a big run. Argentina would be called for a penalty in the breakdown, and Hooley slotted three more from the tee, giving the USA a seven-point lead with five minutes to play.
Argentina caught a break with two minutes left. Bryce Campbell leapt for a fifty-fifty ball, but the Argentine won. The two collided in the air, and Campbell was harshly penalized. Argentina kicked to touch and won an attacking lineout about 10 meters away. The Eagles won a scrum by standing Argentina up in a tackle. All they had to do was win the scrum and clear the ball to touch.
After two resets, Argentina drove the Eagles up and over the ball, winning a penalty six meters from the try line. The visitors opted for a scrum. They won it and engaged in a minute-long fistfight with another advantage for collapsing the previous set piece. This time the No. 8 picked from the base of the scrum and drove over the line, but Hanco Germishuys forced a knock-on inches before the ball was grounded, giving the Eagles the win.