by Mike Petri
With Ireland now in our rear view mirror, our focused turned to Russia. We knew this would be a huge battle as both teams have made it public that they were targeting this game. So we knew they would be gunning for us and although we had beaten them earlier this year, another victory wouldn't come easy.
With such a quick turn around we used Monday to recover, Tuesday as a light practice day, and Wednesday as an extended team run before kickoff Thursday night. We spent most of our valuable time off our feet and doing our homework off the field - video analysis, team meetings, etc. Although we had put forth a good performance against Ireland, we all knew that it wouldn't mean anything if we didn't get the job done against Russia.
With the pressure mounting throughout the camp, we woke up Thursday morning ready for the game. We didn't have the 9/11 inspiration for this one, but we had the motivation that we were representing our country on the big stage against Russia. Talks of Rocky IV and Miracle were floating around the team room regularly. The buildup and hype surrounding the game was so powerful that stores in downtown New Plymouth were selling t-shirts and posters with a large photo of Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago squaring off. We knew we had the chance to do something really special and give the USA a victory at the Rugby World Cup.
The game was a hard fought battle as expected. It was special for me not only to get the victory but to also score the only try of the night thanks to some outstanding work from the rest of the guys to get over the gainline and have Andrew Suniula hit me with a pass to allow me to finish a great team effort.
I have never been happier singing America the Beautiful as I was in the locker room that evening after the game. To get a win for the USA at the Rugby World Cup and share that experience with my teammates and coaches was truly awesome.
Until next time... GO EAGLES!!!
Read more form the Mike Petri Rugby World Cup blog and check back for coming posts.
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