Eagles Loses Heart-breaker Against Georgia

USA Men’s Eagles & Georgia

The USA Rugby Men’s Eagles, ranked 17th in the world traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia to meet the 12th ranked Lelos on Saturday, November 25 at Mikheil Stadium. The match was broadcast on The Rugby Channel at 9 am ET in the United States.

On November 18 the USA Rugby Men’s Eagles defeated Germany 46-17 at Brita Arena in Wiesbaden. Georgia comes into the match with a 54-22 win against Canada two weeks ago and a 13-6 loss to Wales last week. The teams last played in June with Georgia emerging with a 21-17 victory.

Georgia vs. USA Recap

Georgia discipline issues early in the match led to a USA lineout 7 meters out. From the ensuing maul, Joe Taufete’e give the Eagles an early 5-0 lead.

The USA had several early scrums and were holding their own, which is a positive for the Eagles against one of the best scrummaging sides in the world.

Georgia scrum-half Aprasidze had a break, but a knock on by the Eagles lead to another attack after a scrum before Marcel Barche intercepted a pass. A penalty by the Eagles led to a Georgian maul and ultimately resulted in a penalty try to give the Lelos a 7-5 lead.

Soon after AJ MacGinty had a penalty kick attempt just miss to the right.

Discipline continued to impact the Lelos. Viktor Kolelishvili was sent to the bin for a tip tackle on Marcel Brache. The Eagles took advantage of the Lelos being down a man and Joe Taufete’e mauled his way in for his second try of the match. After MacGinty’s conversion, the Eagles reclaimed the lead 12-7.

Georgia answered back after an Eagles penalty with tighthead prop Levan Chilachava barrelling over the line for a try. Giorgi Ksohadze added the conversion for a 14-12 lead. Soon after in the 32nd minute, Chilachava was also sent to the bin and Georgia would play two men down.

This is where the Lelos stepped up and disrupted an Eagles attack from a lineout. They isolated Taufete’e and the Eagles were penalized allowing Georgia to clear. After a penalty by the Eagles, Georgian hooker Jaba Bregvadze went blind to a try in the corner from a lineout for a try and Koshadze was successful with his third conversion to a 21-12 lead. This lead would hold up until the break.

Second Half

The Eagles went through multiple phases maintaining good ball possession, but the Georgian defense thwarted their attacks and was rewarded when the USA momentum was stopped with a knock on.

Georgia showed how dominant their scrum could be and Mo’ungaloa was penalized. The Lelos strategy seemed to try to create a yellow card on the young Life West prop. The Eagles were penalized on the drive and this time Georgia elected to kick for territory. Georgia captain Merab Sharikadze had a break and the Eagles were again penalized.

The ensuing Georgia lineout was not straight, but the Eagles turned the ball over from their lineout giving the Lelos a scrum. The crowd sensed a sure try and the Eagles were again penalized and Blaine Scully was warned that the next time Mo’ungaloa would be sent off for multiple infractions. Georgia elected a scrum again, but the ball popped out and Samu Manoa took the ball into contact and then MacGinty cleared going into fullback Kvirikashvili’s hands.

Georgia could not capitalize and was then penalized and again by a high tackle by Viktor Kolelishvili, after an Eagles lineout near the Georgia 40 meters. Georgia was fortunate that a second yellow card was not issued against the flanker. A double yellow on him could have had the Lelos play the rest of the match down a man.

Discipline issues against Georgia continued to flare and AJ MacGinty slotted the ball over the uprights to narrow the Georgia lead to 21-15. After a penalty by the Eagles, Georgia attempted to restore the lead to 9 points, but the Giorgi Koshadze kick was wide right.

In the 67th minute, the strategy of trying to test the USA scrum paid off as Mo’ungaloa was sent to the bin. The Eagles would need to step up they would be a man down until the last 3 minutes of the match.

The Eagles did that and Bryce Campbell took an offload from Tony Lamborn for a try in the corner in the 77th minute to narrow the lead to 21-20. The pressure was now on MacGinty. A difficult kick from touch could win the match for the Eagles, however, the kick sailed right.

The Eagles had one last opportunity with 90 seconds remaining. They gathered the restart and after a few phases lost the ball on contact. That was all that Georgia needed, as they executed several forward picks to control the clock and then kicked the ball into touch for a 21-20 win.

It was a thrilling match, and with the win, Georgia evened the series between the teams to 3 wins for each. The Eagles played an inspired match and the outcome was not in doubt until the final minute.

Georgia: 1 Mikheil Nariashvil  2 Jaba Bregvadze 3 Levan Chilachava 4 Giorgi Chkhaidze 5 Kote Mikautadze 6 Shalva Sutiashvili 7 Victor Kolelishvili 8 Beka Bitsadze 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze 10 Revaz Jintchelashvili 11 Miran Modebadze 12 Giorgi Kveseladze 13 Merab Sharikadze (C) 14 Giorgi Koshadze 15 Merab Kvirikashvili 16 Shalva Mamukashvili 17 Zurab Zhvania 18 Soso Bekoshvili 19 Giorgi Nemsadze 20 Lasha Lomidze 21 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili 22 Gela Aprasidze 23 Lasha Malaguradze

USA Men’s Eagles: 1 Olive Kilifi 2 Joe Taufete’e 3 Dino Waldren 4 Greg Peterson 5 Nick Civetta 6 Ben Landry 7 John Quill 8 Samu Manoa 9 Shaun Davies 10 AJ MacGinty 11 Ryan Matyas 12 Bryce Campbell 13 Marcel Brache 14 Mike Te’o 15 Blaine Scully (C) 16 Peter Malcolm, 17 Huluholo Mo’ungaloa, 18 Patrick Ryan, 19 Nate Brakely  20 Andrew Durutalo 21 Tony Lamborn 22 Nate Augspurger 23 Will Magie

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant