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Americas Rugby Championship Week 4 Preview
- Updated: February 22, 2017
This is the weekend to set a tone, set your nation apart, or take a step back. Argentina and the US are looking to establish their tone, build on momentum, and set up a winner take all finale for week five. Canada and Uruguay are looking to establish themselves solidly in the third spot, not just in the standings but in standing. Brazil and Chile are looking for upsets, Brazil did it last year to the US, Chile is hoping to catch an over-confident Eagles squad off guard; both wanting to remind the rest they’re not to be overlooked.
Chile (30) vs USA (17): This is not just a must-win for the Eagles but a must dominate. If this game is close or discipline falters, it will only be viewed as a regression. The US are looking to carry their momentum from back-to-back dominate performances against an overmatched Chilean squad with upset on their mind. Chile play physical and can get chippy challenging the Eagle’s discipline. Cards against the US will be Chile’s only chance unless the Eagles show up expecting to win and get sloppy. This is a true test of US development heading into the last game of the ARC; are the Eagles on the verge or just the same old squad of empty promises.
Players to watch for the US are Ben Cima at flyhalf and Hanco Germishuys in reserve, both are future household names. For Chile, it’s almost an entirely new team, so look for improvement, any kind of improvement.
Argentina (9) vs Brazil (33): Brazil climbed one spot in the World Rugby rankings after a tough loss to Uruguay thanks to a Polish loss to Portugal. Oddly enough, Brazil matches up well against Argentina XV’s open style of play; if the Brazilian soccer-influenced attack is going to work against anyone, it’s a team weak defensively up the middle like Argentina. That said, Argentina is fast on the outside and their counterattack is lethal. Estadio Municipal will be treated to a show as the talented Argentinian development squad’s rugby run-and-gun offense dominates the upstart Brazilians.
For Brazil to have a chance at an upset, New Zealander Josh Reeves (flyhalf) must find a way to blend his open passing game with the unique Brazilian kick-attack. For Argentina, the wingers are the flash but 6’7″, 265 lbs lock Ignacio Larrague is the punch; fast but with brutish strength, expect him to blast through the soft Brazilian defense creating space outside.
Uruguay (23) vs Canada (20): If you only watch one match this weekend make it this one. Canada fell two places in World Rugby’s rankings and are looking to stop the bleeding against an Uruguayan team looking to make a statement and establish themselves as the third power in the Americas. Canada has weapons and their defense is solid but they do nothing spectacularly well, win or lose they do it methodically. Uruguay wants to punch you in the gut with body blows up the middle, break down your will with a physical offense and defense, then hit you on the outside. If Uruguay scores early they’ll attempt to slow the match down with scrums and multiple phase possessions. To get Uruguay out of their game Canada must score early, maybe often. A kicking game will favor Uruguay, a shootout favors Canada.
Uruguayan Number 8 Alejandro Nieto is the player to watch, he’s not the captain but he’ll stabilize the defense and drive the offense up the middle. He could be the next Uruguayan to sign for the Jaguars. For Canada, they need a spark and outside center Conor Trainor will be in a prime position to provide it; if he gets going Canada could win going away.
By the end of this weekend we’ll know if the Eagles are for real, if the Canadians have any heart, if the Uruguayans are serious contenders, and whose got the most work ahead between Brazil and Chile.
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