by Nigel Melville
Nigel Melville Direct
Last night's pool game against Australia was an enjoyable game, I have to admit the first half was way more competitive than the second, but the Eagles held their heads high and played hard against a Wallabies team with the weight of a defeat against Ireland weighing heavily on their minds.
It was an interesting game nonetheless, the Eagles battled hard up front and managed to control the amount of possession reaching their speed men out wide for much of the game. However, any lapse in concentration, inaccuracy in contact or on the ball was punished with some outstanding counter-attacking rugby.
Will Australia win the World Cup? It's probably too early to say, but they can definitely compete with New Zealand, the question is whether new Zealand and Australia can cope with the power of the Springboks?
Today France play New Zealand, I hear France have picked a second team, that's interesting, I don't think they have any idea what their first team is...they are all great rugby players...so who knows!!
Australia produced a strong second half performance to defeat the USA Eagles 67-5 during the pool stages of the 2011 Rugby World Cup (RWC). The Eagles played well at times, and received tremendous support from the 30,000 crowd at the Wellington Regional Stadium.
“We are disappointed to lose, but as always the guys fought to the end. In the first half we played some good rugby when we had possession, but in the second period Australia was able to increase the tempo and pulled away. The score line was harsh for the effort we exerted and we were severely punished for any error we made, which is a tough lesson when you are playing one of the best teams in the world,” said USA Head Coach, Eddie O’Sullivan.
There is a reason why Australia won the coveted Tri Nations tournament earlier this year, defeating both the South African Springboks and New Zealand All Blacks. Australia is currently ranked 3rd in the world, having won the RWC on two occasions, in 1991 and 1999. Australia also played in the 2003 RWC final, but a last-minute drop goal from Jonny Wilkinson, gave England the victory.
The opening minutes of the match caused some concern for Australians fans as the Eagles disrupted several promising Wallaby attacks. Quade Cooper – public enemy number one (as he is referred to in New Zealand) – sparked Australia into action with two beautiful dummies, resulting in Rob Horne scoring the first points. The USA came back strongly, but a turnover saw the Wallabies launch a counter-attack, flanker Rocky Elsom dotting down for a 10-0 lead.
The Eagles struck back from a well worked lineout with Hayden Smith finding Tim Usasz on a great support line. The captain busted down the touchline, off-loading to Scott LaValla who carried on the movement. Eventually the Eagles were awarded a 5-meter scrum, which saw an eight man pick-up from JJ Gagiano. He handed off Elsom, and dived over in the corner for a beautiful try.
Chants of ‘USA USA USA’ reverberated throughout the stadium, with so many American flags flying proudly well into the night. One of the banners of the day read: ‘I Love Nese Malifa. Marry Me!'
Australia would score two more tries in the first half, leading 22-5 at the break.
The Eagles had periods of play that looked very promising, but the Wallaby defense held out these efforts. It was another bruising encounter for the American side, but it was Australia who lost players through injury. Pat McCabe dislocated a shoulder and Will Genia and Kurtley Beale left the field with hamstring concerns.
The second half saw the Wallabies control the ball during phase play, running in seven tries, finishing the match at 67-5.
“We look forward to our next match on Tuesday. We will get some fresh legs on the field again and have a real crack against Italy in our final pool game,” said O’Sullivan.
The Eagles will travel to Nelson today ahead of the September 27 clash with Italy
With an impressive resume as player, coach and administrator, Nigel David Melville took over as CEO and President of Rugby Operations of USA Rugby, the National Governing Body of the sport in America, in 2006. In addition to his full time job promoting the sport in the U.S., Melville has launched his own blog, Nigel Melville Direct, to further the discussion and his passion for what it will take to make the U.S. a great rugby playing nation.
CLICK HERE to read more on Nigel Melville
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