October 11, 2015
Eagles Lose To Japan In Final Rugby World Cup Match
Photo: Universal Sports Broadcast
The Eagles entered their final Pool B match against Japan hoping to gain their first win of the tournament. Based on Scotland’s victory against Samoa, Japan wanted to finish strong, as they had secured third place in the Pool. If they won, they would become the first team to win 3 matches, yet no advance to the Quarterfinals.
The United States started strong, getting on the board first as AJ MacGinty slotted a penalty kick 4 minutes into the match. The lead however, would not last long, as Japan kicked ahead and quickly moved the ball to the wing for a Kotaro Matsushima try in the corner. Goromaru converted and the score was now 3-7. (6′)
The Eagles would strike back after a 21 phase attack with a Ngwenya try in the corner. The conversion by MacGinty went wide and the USA regained an 8-7 lead. (21′)
A botched restart then resulted in the next score for Japan by Fujita. Once again Goromaru proved to be an accurate and reliable kicker. Japan would not lose the lead for the rest of the match. Score USA 8-14 Japan (28′)
Penalties are not a good idea when Goromaru is kicking. Once again 4 minutes later, he slotted another penalty to increase the lead to 8-17.
The USA would have one more chance to score prior to the half. They would get within 5 meters of in goal, but their attack ended when Greg Peterson was held up, which resulted in a Japan scrum. They won the scrum and kicked into touch to end the half with a lead. At the half the score was Eagles 8 and Japan 17.
The second half started fast for Japan, as another penalty against the USA had Goromaru add a 4th penalty kick. (8-20, 43′)
The Eagles would take advantage of a Japan infraction for MacGinty to narrow the gap with a penalty kick of his own. (11-20, 55′)
The USA then looked like it could seize momentum with an attack by Ngwenya, however shortly later Eric Fry received a yellow card for playing the ball while not on his feet. Japan kicked for territory, won a Lineout and transitioned into a maul for a Mafi try. Goromaru converted and a USA win was slipping away. (11-25. 61′)
The USA will be on the highlight video for an absolutely devastating tackle by Samu Manoa on Kosei Ono (#10). Japan strung 18 phases attacking to within 3 meters of in goal, but the USA defended and repealed another score.
Japan would attack again shortly later, but Andrew Durutalo would poach the ball in the ruck which lead to a Palamo and then Barrett break. Petri would get to 5 meters. Quick ball to MacGinty and a wide pass to Chris Wyles ended with a Wyles try in the corner. A MacGinty conversion and now the USA were within a converted try of tying the match. (18-25, 72′)
Eric Fry returned and the USA were now at full strength again. Three minutes later, Japan would snuff out any hope for a USA comeback, when the USA were penalized for coming into a ruck from the side. Goromaru calmly kicked his 5th penalty kick to seal a win for Japan. (18-28, 75′)
A final attack of 10 phases by the Eagles would be wasted by a knock on.
Final score USA 18- 28 Japan.
Goromaru would be selected as the Man of the Match.
The match would the USA winning both their lineouts and scrums. They had numerous attacks of multiple phases. The ball was not distributed as quickly as Japan and often the USA had to work had to pierce the gain line. All told, the USA defended well, but penalties and handling errors were their undoing.
Japan also won all but one of their lineouts and won their scrums. They distributed quick ball and were able to take advantage of some USA handling errors to score.
The USA were win less in Pool play at the Rugby World Cup 2105. They played very competitively against both Samoa and Japan. They also took a lead into the half against Scotland, before Scotland’s seizing the second half. Against South Africa they were losing 14-0 at the half against the 4th ranked team in the world, before the floodgates opened in the second half.
The USA has made progress in both developing players and in competing against strong rugby teams in test matches. The program is headed in the right direction. There will be many that will take issue with my comments,since the team did not win a Rugby World Cup match. They had a strong Pacific Nations Cup performance during the Summer beating both Canada and Japan. They also won against Canada again and performed well against the Harlequins.
The Eagles are on the cusp of turning loses into wins. They need more test matches and to play together as a group. That is often difficult with player schedules differing. They need to cut down on penalties and work on quickening the pace of ball distribution.
There is an expectation that the Eagles performance will be improving and with that their world rankings will improve.
USA v Japan, Pool B, Kingsholm, Gloucester
Referee: Glen Jackson Assistant Referee: John Lacey, Federico Anselmi; TV Match Official: Shaun Veldsman
USA: Tries: Ngwenya, Wyles Conv: MacGinty 2 Penalties: MacGinty 2
Japan: Tries: Matsushima, Fujita, Mafi Conv: Goromaru 2 Pen: Goromaru 3
USA Ranked 16th: HC Mike Tolkin Starters: 1. Eric Fry 2. Zach Fenoglio 3. Titi Lamositele 4. Hayden Smith 5. Greg Peterson 6. Al McFarland 7. Andrew Durutalo 8. Samu Manoa 9. Mike Petri 10. AJ MacGinty 11. Zach Test 12. Thretton Palamo 13. Seamus Kelly 14. Takudzwa Ngwenya 15. Chris Wyles (c) Replacements: 16. Phil Thiel 17. Oli Kilifi 18. Chris Baumann 19. Cam Dolan 20. John Quill 21. Danny Barrett 22. Niku Kruger 23. Folau Niua
Japan Ranked 11th: HC Eddie Jones Starters: 1. Keita Inagaki 2. Shota Horie 3. Hiroshi Yamashita 4. Luke Thompson 5. Justin Ives 6. Michael Leitch (c) 7. Michael Broadhurst 8. Ryu Koliniasi Holani 9. Fumiaki Tanaka 10. Kosei Ono 11. Kotaro Matsushima 12. Craig Wing 13. Harumichi Tatekawa 14. Yoshikazu Fujita 15. Ayumu Goromaru Replacements: 16. Takeshi Kizu 17. Masataka Mikami 18. Kensuke Hatakeyama 19. Shinya Makabe 20. Amanaki Lelei Mafi 21. Hendrik Tui 22. Atsushi Hiwasa 23. Karne Hesketh