Written by Joe Harvey | Photos by Travis Prior
Beating Canada 38-16 in Glendale, Colorado, Gary Gold’s USA have moved to the Americas 1 qualifier for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
Having lost the first leg in Newfoundland a week ago, the Eagles rallied to win with a 59-50 aggregate score.
From the first whistle, it became blatantly clear that a week of hurt for the hosts was now being used as motivation to win the clash. AJ MacGinty slotted an early penalty in front of his home crowd, only for efforts from Cooper Coats, Peter Nelson and a yellow card for Old Glory DC’s Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz to momentarily stall momentum.
Last weekend in Canada, it was the lineout maul that was the USA’s greatest strength, but on the whole the set-piece wasn’t used effectively enough.
With one of their earliest opportunities deep in Canadian territory, Rugby United New York’s Hanco Germishuys latched onto the ball and crashed over the whitewash to give his team a slender lead.
Germishuys would have a major influence on the first half, the 25-year-old’s next involvement an assist for Christian Dyer’s try in the corner after collecting a cross-field kick from MacGinty.
The flanker would have a hat-trick of tries before the half, rumbling over the whitewash from close-range two more times before the half, a Nelson penalty kick the only interruption to USA’s dominance.
With just three points separating the sides on aggregate at the break, there was plenty to play for and it was right from the restart that the Eagles made their intentions extremely clear.
It began with an outrageous drop goal from former Austin Gilgronis scrum-half Ruben de Haas, the 22-year-old smashing the kick over from 42 meters out.
De Haas would be lighting up Infinity Park not long after with a breath-taking try, the Saracens man charging down a box-kick and scoring the try.
Joe Taufete’e’s try in the 63rd minute put a close to the scoring for the Eagles whilst Canada’s final seven points came from a penalty try which was the final play of the game.
Defeat means that Canada will now play Chile in October across two legs, the overall winner of that encounter moving to the Americas 2 qualifier, which will comprise of either the USA or Uruguay, depending on who loses across two games.
For the USA, their path to France is far simpler, with an aggregate win over Uruguay ensuring a place at the next Rugby World Cup.
Of course, their opponents are not to be taken lightly and there will be plenty of familiar faces lining up for Los Teros.
With Major League rugby regulars Manuel Diana, Gaston Mieres (both Toronto), Ignacio Dotti (NOLA Gold) and Diego Magno (formerly of Houston SaberCats) all due to be wearing light blue, it is all set to be a mouth-watering encounter.
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