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Eagles Win Americas Rugby Championship!
- Updated: March 4, 2017
David Tameilau’s match ending try was the winning difference when Ben Cima’s conversion tied the game. Despite Argentina having a significant tournament point differential (166 points to the US’ 119) Tameilau’s try was the fourth of the match for the Eagles, the Jaguars only scoring three. Rugby math gives the crown to the United States.
Many say I’m a pessimist but that’s not true. When some see a half glass of water some call it half full, others half empty; I look at that glass of water and remind them I ordered a beer. I call it how I see it and while the tournament win is certainly a great step forward, historic in fact as the Men’s XV side have not won a tournament since the Olympics…in 1924. That said, to truly move beyond Tier 2 status, to remove the dreaded adjective “developing” from in front of “rugby nation” they needed to beat Argentina’s developmental squad. What’s so frustrating is they could have; this ARC win should be sweet without having to add the adjective “bitter” beforehand.
The Eagles defense played big, led by flanker John Quill, making stand after solid stand, a massive effort against the vaunted Jaguar attack. For the majority of the match the Eagles defense remained in control even as mistakes mounted on the offensive side of the ball.
Mike Te’o and Ben Cima each picked a bad day to have arguably their worst of the tournament. While Cima hammered a 65-meter kick in the first half he was only 50% on conversion kicks and made a handful of kicking errors. Te’o had a hard time hanging on to the ball early in the match and a knock-on the referee deemed cynical cost him 10 in the sin bin and gave Argentina a penalty try to cut the Eagles’ halftime lead to 15-10.
Sure, the wind was an enormous factor in Cima’s misses and Te’o’s yellow card was a 50/50 call but these only compounded the numerous little mistakes the Eagles were making; as if to emphasize the point a second penalty try and penalty kick saw Argentina take a 20-15 lead. A defensive breakdown at the lineout saw Argentinian fullback Gabriel Ascarate split up the middle and it was quickly 27-15 with just under 20 minutes to play. That’s when the US mistakes stopped.
The ARC was won in what was likely the most impressive 15 minutes of play in the history of the US Men’s XV’s. The Eagle defense continued to stand like a brick wall against the Argentinian attack, the US then countering with their own aggressive offense. Swift, flat, accurate passes led to a Cam Dolan try in the corner; the best defense for Argentina at this point was the wind which swatted away another Ben Cima conversion attempt. Six minutes later even the wind couldn’t help as Cima cut through it to convert Tameilau’s try.
27-27, 4 tries to 3…the Eagles are ARC Champions!
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