Eagles End On A High

Andrew Durutalo USA Eagles Select XV Uruguay Americas Rugby Championship ARCThe Eagles Select XV wrapped up their ARC campaign with a dominant win over a word out Uruguayan side on Sunday to repeat last year’s 2nd place finish. It was a positive performance from the side who struggled against Argentina in the opener, and though the opening forty minutes were far from clinical, coach Mike Tolkin would have been largely pleased with the effort.

Ben Pinkelman announced himself as a future test candidate with an early try in a dynamic man-of-the-match performance. The flanker could certainly afford to add an extra pound or twenty on his lanky frame, but his athleticism was noted and more so his composure playing among men with considerably more experience. If Tolkin’s selection policy is to be criticised for certain tendencies, and deservedly so, he should also take some credit for fast-tracking the likes of Pinkelman, Titi Lamositele, and Benjamin Tarr.

Outside of the scrum, easily the most disappointing aspect of the day from an American perspective, the side moved the ball fairly well though their patience and ability to turn pressure into points was sub par in the first half. On multiple occasions the try was on only to be bungled by an unforced error, a knock-on or a bad pass. Thankfully it got better in the second half.

Flying winger Tim Stanfill had another eye-catching performance, scoring twice and racing away on two other occasions only to be called back. While he’ll need to be tested by tougher competition to be properly assessed, with his pace and natural finishing ability it would be a considerable oversight not to take him on tour. Again the question has to be asked, how on earth has he not been selected before?

The Gold Coast contingent of Folau Niua, Andrew Durutalo, and Zack Test all fared reasonably well. Test made multiple breaks and showed plenty of razzle dazzle with his Quade Cooper-esque skip-step, and has likely done enough to earn a trip to Europe. Durutalo was his usual frustrating mix of dynamism and bewilderment. What exactly was going through his head when he went for an extra fend with the goal line beneath his feet is a mystery never to be answered. Niua played the whole match and looked solid if unspectacular, but he’s proven his class before.

Aside from a few sparse breakouts, it was apparent that Uruguay were out on their feet almost from the kickoff. The enormously taxing performance against Argentina on Wednesday had been too much. To their credit they never gave up, and even managed to score a try just before full time through Diego Magno, who tried desperately to hold his exhausted troops together throughout. It was just rewards for the forwards whose legs struggled to cover the field but stood strong in the scrum from start to finish.

Speaking of scrums, it must have been vexing for forwards coach Justin Fitzpatrick to see tighthead project Olive Kilifi getting uprooted by Uruguay’s 4th choice loosehead. Kilifi has actually shown some decent mobility for his bulk, but if he has struggled against this lot he is going to be savaged by Romania never mind the gentlemen arriving in Chicago next week. Fitzpatrick is in a tough spot – there’s literally no-one else to turn to unless they send an SOS to Mate Moeakiola, 36 years old but still moving pianos in the French 3rd division. Cometh the hour…

Sunday, October 19, 14:30 PST, Langford

09 mins – B. Pinkelman try 5-0
35 mins – A. Siddall pen 8-0
41 mins – T. Stanfill try 13-0
45 mins – L. Stanfill try 18-0
46 mins – A. Siddall con 20-0
55 mins – A. Siddall pen 23-0
71 mins – T. Stanfill try 28-0
72 mins – F. Niua con 30-0
77 mins – D. Magno try 30-5

36 mins – J. de Freitas yellow (team infringements)

T. Hall; Z. Test, F. Niua, S. Suniula (L. Filikitonga 61), T. Stanfill; A. Siddall (J. Hundley 64), S. Suniula; N. Wallace (A. MacLellan 72), P. Thiel (capt.) (Z. Fenoglio 61), O. Kilifi (B. Tarr 61); J. Cullen, B. Doyle (G. Harriman 37); B. Pinkelman, A. Durutalo, L. Stanfill (K. Sumsion 61).

G. Mieres (F. Favaro HT); F. Bulanti (capt.), P. Dolsan, R. Silva, L. Leivas; A. Durán, G. Lijstenstein (M. Arocena 64); M. Sanguinetti (R. de Mula 46), J. Echeverría (G. Kessler 72), F. Jiménez (L. Scarnati 46); F. Bascou (M. Beer 72), I. Dotti (G. Soto 46); A. Alonso, J. de Freitas, D. Magno.

Referee: J. Sylvestre (UAR)
Assistants: C. Assmus (RC) & A. McMaster (RC)

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