Men’s Eagles head coach Mike Tolkin has named the side set to face off against Romania November 24, in the final match of the team’s Fall European Tour. The Eagles have gone 1-1 in the tour thus far, first beating Russia but losing a close match to Tonga.
Romania sits one spot behind the Eagles in IRB rankings, setting up a showdown between to well-matched teams.
“Romania has traditionally been strong up front and we will have to meet them on our terms in the front row,” said Tolkin. “Our guys are up to the battle. They have done that well this tour against 2 physical teams.”
In a convincing win versus Russia (Nov 9), the Eagles showed improvements in many of the set pieces and highlighted their ability to pose a challenge both offensively and defensively.
Tries in the first match came from a range of players, including newly capped Toby L’Estrange, front rows Eric Fry and Brian Doyle, fullback Chris Wyles, and scrumhalf Robbie Shaw.
Though both performances of the tour have shown positive strides for the Eagles, Tolkin will continue to emphasize the need to minimize mishandling errors and capitalize on opportunities offensively.
Against Russia, consistency from Shaw and L’Estrange gave the Eagles some momentum, much like Captain Todd Clever and his forwards did during the first half against Tonga.
“Behind or forwards, we have a very dynamic back line who really enjoy playing together – we hope to see them with the ball in-hand a lot Saturday,” remarked Tolkin.
Defensively the team has shown it can hold it’s own against traditionally physical teams like Tonga, but it remains to be seen if they are able to maintain 80 minutes of intensity and organization.
The physical battle will once again be a winnable one for the Eagles given their recent performances. Continuity in contact and utilizing backline strengths will also be something to watch for.
Scott Lavalla will replace Brian Doyle on the roster after Doyle’s shoulder injury in the last match, and Peter Dahl will step in as openside flanker. Mike Petri steps back into the starting slot at scrumhalf and will look to Takudzwa Ngwenya on the wing as he makes his debut on the tour. Chris Wyles also returns to fullback.
The Eagles play Romania at 4pm (9am ET) on Saturday at the Stadionul National de Rugby Arcul de Triumf in Bucharest, Romania. The game will not be televised or streamed in the US, but you can find results on USA Rugby's Eye on the Eagles page and by following on Twitter @USAEaglesRugby.
USA vs. ROMANIA
Stadionul National de Rugby Arcul de Triumf
1. Shawn Pittman
2. Chris Biller
3. Eric Fry
4. Scott Lavalla
5. Louis Stanfill
6. John Quill
7. Peter Dahl
8. Todd Clever
9. Mike Petri
10. Toby L'Estrange
11. Luke Hume
12. Andrew Suniula
13. Paul Emerick
14. Takudzwa Ngwenya
15. Chris Wyles
16. Derek Asbun
17. Nick Wallace
18. Zachary Fenoglio
19. Graham Harriman
20. Inaki Basauri
21. Robbie Shaw
22. Roland Suniula
23. Zachary Pangelinan
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