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USA EAGLES A WIN AWAY FROM WORLD CUP AFTER 49-7 WIN OVER HONG KONG

Written By Joe Harvey I Photos By World Rugby / Getty Images

On their hunt for qualification for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, the USA Eagles backed up last weekend’s win over Kenya with a 49-7 victory over Hong Kong.

Thanks to their win, all that stands between Gary Gold’s team and a place in Pool C with Wales, Australia, Fiji, and Georgia is a clash with Portugal next weekend in a winner-takes-all encounter.

In Dubai, it was Os Lobos that played first at The Sevens Stadium. Comfortably beating Kenya 85-0, that result meant that nothing more than a win for the Eagles was acceptable as they looked to keep pace.
Doing so in fine fashion, the Eagles registered seven tries as the sun set in the United Arab Emirates and even overtook next week’s opponents, Portugal, in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings.

PHOTO BY WORLD RUGBY/GETTY 

Much like a week prior, Old Glory DC’s Jamason Fa’anana-Schultz scored a try for his team to get the win underway. His score came 10 minutes after the Eagles rode their luck when Hong Kong’s Gregor McNeish missed a penalty kick.

Christian Dyer had also dotted down for the Eagles prior to the back-row’s score, but the score had been ruled out for an earlier forward pass. AJ MacGinty duly added the conversion, the Bristol Bears fly-half having an unflappable day from the tee on the way to this win.

PHOTO BY WORLD RUGBY/GETTY 

As it was the week before, the rolling maul proved effective for the Eagles. A week on from Dylan Fawsitt’s hat trick, this time it was Kapeli Pifeleti Jr’s time to score from the back of the set-piece, the former San Diego Legion hooker crashing over to keep his team in the ascendency.

Legion’s Nate Augspurger would be the next player to score. It came as the Eagles were camped in Hong Kong’s 22m, some silky passing in the midfield from MacGinty and then Mitch Wilson opening the door to the scrum-half, who is at present lining up on the wing for his country.

PHOTO BY WORLD RUGBY/GETTY 

Before the half was up, NOLA Gold’s Cam Dolan would add the bonus point score. Driving over from close range on the occasion of his 62nd cap. Dolan hopes to represent his country at a third World Cup next year should the team qualify.

Following the break, it was much of the same for the Eagles. On the occasion of his second cap, New England Free Jacks back Mitch Wilson would score again, thanks to MacGinty’s pinpoint distribution, and Augspurger got a second thanks to his captain’s skill.

Having always applied themselves well throughout the game, Hong Kong would finish the game on the scoresheet. Their try came through Bedford Blues wing Matthew Worley, the 25-year-old breaking through the defensive line to add a consolation score.

Moni Tonga’uiha‘s score with three minutes left to play added a finer finish to the scoreline. With the game wrapped up, the NOLA back-row was the beneficiary of a long spell of possession in opposition territory before finding his way over the try line.

PHOTO BY WORLD RUGBY/GETTY 

“I’m happy with where we are at the moment. I think we’re improving in certain areas, but we’ve got our work cut out for us next weekend, that’s for sure,” Gary Gold, Eagles head coach, said. “Next week, I would definitely like to see us follow through on our chances.

“We’re creating so many opportunities, but we’re just not finishing them off. Whether it’s deciding to keep the ball in hand or being more clinical at the line out, we’ll need to take more advantage of our opportunities next week.”

Next Friday, the Eagles and Portugal will go toe-to-toe with one another to decide which of the two nations will be going to the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Be sure to tune in via The Rugby Network for a 10:30 AM ET kick-off on Friday.

 

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