Written by Joe Harvey | Photo by Travis Prior
As the USA and Canada continue their search for Rugby World Cup qualification, both teams picked up wins on Saturday evening to put them in the driving seat.
Gary Gold’s Eagles picked up a 19-16 win over Uruguay at Infinity Park in Colorado, whilst Kingsley Jones’ Canada narrowly beat out Chile in Langford, BC.
USA 19-16 URUGUAY
It was a tale of two halves for the Eagles, who led 14-3 at the half in Colorado, with a second half resurgence from Los Teros meaning that the score line finished 19-16.
Scoring was opened by the South Americans just eight minutes in, with Felipe Berchesi kicking a penalty in the opening exchanges of the game.
Not long after the Eagles took charge, Hanco Germishuys’ break down the touchline, as well as offloads from Ruben de Haas and Kapeli Pifileti (both Saracens) leaving a gap for NOLA Gold’s Cam Dolan to score the game’s opening try, Austin Gilgronis Will Magie converting the score.
Encouraged by their efforts, the Eagles continued to pile the pressure on Uruguay. It was pressure that eventually led to Christian Dyer adding another try, Magie bringing the first half to a close with the conversion.
Magie was influential in the Eagles’ third and final try of the evening too. Following a penalty, the half-back struck the ball deep into enemy territory, the resulting set piece offering a platform for Utah Warriors’ Mika Kruse to score after a series of hard carries by the forwards.
From that point onwards, Uruguay had the better of the game, Berchesi striking two more penalties and converting Guillermo Pujadas’ 78th minute try.
There is also a special mention to NOLA’s Moni Tonga’uiha, who made his Eagles debut from the bench.
CANADA 22-21 CHILE
It took a late penalty from Robbie Povey to give Canada a late win over Chile in British Columbia to keep their Rugby World Cup dreams alive.
From the outset Chile’s forwards were dominant, their prowess giving Santiago Videla two penalties in the opening half an hour.
Just moments after that second penalty, Canada struck back with a try for LA’s Corey Thomas, the Australian-born lock charging through an attempted tack from Chile’s Domingo Saavedra.
Videla knocked a third penalty over to bring the first half to a close and it was in the second period that Canada burst into life. Two quickfire tries for Toronto Arrows’ Ross Braude, as well as conversions from Peter Nelson, meant that the tides had turned, but it wouldn’t last for long.
It started with a yellow card to Toronto’s Tyler Rowland for making contact in the air with Nicolas Garafulic, the resulting penalty kicked to the corner and Clemente Saavedra crashing over from the back of the lineout.
The lock registered a second try 14 minutes later, the conversion giving Chile a two-point lead. Attack after attack would follow for Canada, the penalty from Povey with the clock in the red handing his team victory from the jaws of defeat.
Next weekend, each of the USA and Canada will be making their way to South America in the hopes of ensuring their Rugby World Cup dreams.
For the Eagles their task is somewhat simple, a win securing their place in France in two years’ time. For Canada, they must win in order to remain in the running for a spot on the plane.
Should they win, then next July they will face-off with the loser of the USA and Uruguay encounter.
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