Eagles Late Charge Falls Short Against Georgia

June 18, 2017

Eagles Late Charge Falls Short Against Georgia


Photo: Miss Colleen’s Rugby Pix

Doug Coil

The Eagles concluded the Emirates Airlines Summer Series at 7 p.m. ET Saturday against Georgia losing 21-17 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University. The match was broadcast live on The Rugby Channel.

Last week the Eagles were defeated by No. 4 Ireland at Red Bull Arena before 22, 370 fans. This week the attention will turn to Canada for the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers in Toronto June 21 and in San Diego July 1.

The Eagles spent the first twenty minutes dominating possession, however there was significant kicking from both sides for territory.  The USA was on the attack swinging the ball wide left and right, however Georgia was able to capitalize on USA errors to take a 18-3 lead into halftime. The Eagles stormed back in the second half falling short in the 21-17 loss.

Georgia drew first blood in the 9th minute as a AJ MacGinty chip was covered by Georgia fullback Merab Kvirikashvili was evaded tacklers for a unconverted try in the corner for a 5-0 lead. The Eagles came back in the 17th minute with a penalty kick by MacGinty to narrow the score to 5-3.

The Eagles were pinged for being offsides. This especially hurt, as Georgia had committed a knock on. Kvirikushvili slotted the penalty and the lead increased to 8-3. Six minutes later, a late tackle had Kvirikushvili added another kick for a 11-3 lead.

In the final minutes, the USA went through several phases before a high ball kick went too far giving Georgia possession. Alexandre Todua fended two defenders in moving into USA territory. A cross kick by Lasha Khmaladze had Georgia nearly in for a try with Bryce Campbell and AJ MacGinty defending well. The match official, Federico Anselmi, asked for a TMO and determined that MacGinty’s tackle was high.

Georgia elected a 5 meter scrum from the penalty and after successive scrum infractions, Chris Baumann was issued a yellow card. A front row replacement was needed and Dino Waldren came into the front row and Matai Leuta went to the bin. With another scrum infraction however, a penalty try was awarded as the half ended with Georgia leading 18-3.

The second half began with the Eagles paying for an infraction, as Kvirikashvili slotted a penalty kick to increase the lead to 21-3. Minutes later, another penalty attempt went left of the posts.

The Eagles went on a sustained attack which ended with a MacGinty offload to Nate Augspurger for a try in the 57th minute. MacGinty then converted to narrow the lead to 21-10.

In the 65th minute Mike Te’o fielded a Georgia box kick, but was brought down while in the air by Giorgi Tsutskiridze, who was sent to the bin.

After some back and forth attacks by both teams,  a Georgia attempt at a drop goal was missed. The Eagles secured the 22 drop and after a penalty by Georgia, the ball went wide right to Leuta, who executed a no look pass back inside. MacGinty found a gap and offloads by Ben Cima and Mike Te’o then led to Matt Jensen 72nd minute try. MacGinty converted to cut the lead to 21-17.

Georgia had another opportunity for points four minutes later after a scrum infraction, but Kvirikashvili’s penalty kick was wide.

With only three minutes remaining in the match, the Eagles needed the ball and with this in mind, MacGinty tried to execute a short 22 meter drop. Georgia took posession and tried to use the clock to its advantage through three man picks by the forwards before Marcel Brache and Nate Augspurger turned over the ball.

Would there be enough time for a final Eagles try? Keeping possession was critical, and the choice of Augspurger for a clearance kick seemed to be a tactical error. Fortunately, a Ryan Matyas tackle regained possession on a penalty after the tackle. With seconds remaining in the match, MacGinty kicked for territory and the Eagles attacked from a lineout and turned into a maul. Georgia defended the attack and secured the 21-17 win in taking Matyas into touch.

The Georgia side is comprised of seasoned Top 14 and Premiership veterans with the forwards being dominant in the scrums. The Eagles were penalized numerous times for scrum infractions resulting from the pressure by the Georgian forwards. The Eagles had numerous attacking phases, but some handling errors in the sweltering heat or ill timed kicks, thwarted a number of attacks. Georgia exhibited patience taking advantage of Eagles miscues and they tried to slow down the pace of the match late in the second half.

The Eagles should be commended for their comeback against a very tough team and this should bode well against Canada. They played with a high pace and timely insertion of reserves, continued this pace.


Men’s Eagles: 1. Tony Purpura 2. James Hilterbrand 3. Chris Baumann 4. Nate Brakeley 5. Ben Landry 6. Todd Clever (C) 7. Tony Lamborn 8. Cam Dolan 9. Shaun Davies 10. Will Magie 11. Nate Augspurger 12. AJ MacGinty 13. Bryce Campbell 14. Matai Leuta 15. Mike Te’o 16. Peter Malcolm 17. Ben Tarr 18. Dino Waldren 19. Matthew Jensen 20. Andrew Durutalo 21. Ben Cima 22. Marcel Brache 23. Ryan Matyas

Georgia: 1 Mikheil Nariashvili 2 Jaba Bregvadze 3 Levan Chilachava 4 Giorgi Nemsadze 5 Kote Mikautadze 6 Lasha Lomidze 7 Vito Kolelishvili 8 Beka Bitsadze 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze 10 Lasha Khmaladze 11 Alexandre Todua 12 Merab Sharikadze (C) 13 Davit Kacharava 14 Giorgi Koshadze 15 Merab Kvirikashvili 16 Shalva Mamukashvili 17 Tornike Mataradze 18 Soso Bekoshvili 19 Giorgi Chkhaidze 20 Otar Giorgadze 21 Giorgi Begadze 22 Lasha Malaghuradze 23 Giorgi Tsutskiridze

Men’s Eagles – 17
Tries: Augspurger, Jensen Conversions: MacGinty (2) Penalties: MacGinty

Georgia – 21
Tries: Kvirikashvili, Penalty Conversions: Penalty Penalties: Kvirikashvili (3)


USA Men’s Eagles Summer 2017 Schedule
v. Ireland (Emirates Airline Summer Series) – L 55-19
v. Georgia (Emirates Airline Summer Series) – L 21-17
v. Canada (Rugby World Cup 2019 Qualifier) – Saturday, June 24 @ 3 p.m. ET – Tim Hortons Field
v. Canada (Rugby World Cup 2019 Qualifier) – Saturday, July 1 @ 6 p.m. ET – Torero Stadium


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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant