Russia's dream of a winning World Cup debut floundered on the rocks of set-piece inadequacy on Thursday, but minds were immediately turned to upcoming potentially trickier pool games.
Despite showing a resolute defence that only leaked one try - a brilliant effort by US scrumhalf Mike Petri - the Russians crucially allowed their former Cold War rivals dominance at the breakdown, line-out and scrum.
The Americans held on to win 13-6 in a rain and wind-swept Stadium Taranaki, leaving the Russians looking ahead to three more tough pool matches against Italy, Ireland and, finally, Australia.
"It was our first match at the Rugby World Cup, more important to us than any matches before," said coach Nikolay Nerush. "We really wanted to show what we could do. We really wanted to win the game.
"To beat the USA in this match would have been really difficult for us, but this match showed us that it was possible. We lost the match but we didn't lose ourselves," he said.
Nerush added: "Unfortunately, the line-out didn't go well and the balls we could have won could have helped us win the game. The US team are very experienced, not debutants in the rugby World Cup, in which they have played many times.
"I thank the boys for pushing the boundaries and playing as well as they could. They forged through until the end. I've no real complaints save the lineouts," said the Russian coach.
Captain and hooker Vladislav Korshunov was left struggling to find reasons for his side's line-out disaster.
"I do not manage the whole line-out, I just throw in the ball," he said. "We jumped at the point where our opponents were waiting for us, and when we managed to catch the ball we dropped it frequently, probably because it was slippery.
"I felt confident throwing the ball, maybe it was worth changing to the second or third jumper," he suggested.
Korshunov added that nerves had certainly been present, especially given the political undertones many observers were trying to impress on the game between the former Cold War rivals.
"We were excited in the first few minutes as it was our first game of the Rugby World Cup," he said. "We felt the atmosphere, especially against the USA, because everyone was speaking of the political context.
"We were a bit anxious, but we fought the anxiety, and we were ready physically and psychologically come the match. We made some errors, it's very disappointing," added Korshunov.
Kingsley Jones, the former Wales flank and captain now acting as the Russian team director, added: "We have to be positive. We were in the game until the 80th minute, but we let the USA off the hook.
"The real test will come against Italy (on September 20). We need to back our performance up and build on things and improve on the things we got wrong."
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