Canada defeated the USA 13-11 in the second leg of the Rugby World Cup Qualifier two-game series.
Canada wins the series 40-20, but perhaps the story of the game wasn't the qualification - Canada had essentially sewn that up a week before - but how close this match was.
The USA dominated possession and territory, but could not get the ball in for tries. They spent most of the first 15 minutes in the Canadian 22. and did get over the line, but Chris Biller was unable to get the ball grounded past Ciaran Hearn's arm.
Canada received repeated warnings for penalties, including taking out the lifter in the lineout, and that made sure the USA could keep up the pressure.
After the hosts were able to finally relieve some pressure and kick downfield, the Eagles replied. Fullback Blaine Scully booted a long kick downfield, and the Americans won the ball back, and worked a series of phases. Luke Hume scampered through, and then quick ball saw a pass out to Taku Ngwenya, who dummied and went in for the try and a 5-0 lead.
Canada replied with a penalty from fullback James Pritchard right from the restart, when Hume was called for holding on.
Then Canada took the lead at 20 minutes. It was simple rugby. After struggling with their lineouts, the boys in red won one, and send hands out to the wing. Flyhalf Harry Jones sent a nice long pass to Hearn, who fed Pritchard and the fullback did the rest. Canada led 8-5.
After the restart, the Eagles earned a lineout in Canadian territory, but dropped the ball in open play. Canada ran it back, and pushed into the USA half.
Pritchard had a chance to extend his team's lead, but the normally automatic kicker missed a relatively easy one. With the half almost over, captain Todd Clever took a quick short 22 dropout and set off downfield. He had prop Shawn Pittman with him, and they made plenty of yardage, eventually earning a penalty as the Canadians were offside. A fairly cynical foul that did not earn a card, but it did earn a long-range kick for Wyles, who slotted it to tie the game at halftime 8-8.
The second half wasn't all Eagles the way the first half was, but it was close. Wyles had a relatively easy kick early on, and missed. But the fortunes of the game turned at about 56 minutes, when Blaine Scully was called for a knock on as he chased a high ball into the Canada 22. Replays clearly showed that Pritchard dropped the ball, and Scully didn't touch it until it hit the ground. The Eagles were there to keep the movement going, and it wasn't unreasonable to think they might have scored. At the very least, they would have had a scrum in the Canada 22.
But instead, Canada got the ball, and with a couple of well-timed runs made it into USA territory. The Eagle tackling, strong all day, let them down a bit in this movement, and eventually Canada shoved prop Jason Marshall in at the corner. Canada 13 USA 8.
Shaken, the Eagles took a while to regroup, but they held off some concerted Canada attacks. The problem, though, was finishing. On repeated occasions they had the ball right on the Canada line, but failed to score. They relied far too much on pick-and-jams, and never tried even a one-off pass to an onrushing forward.
Wyles did hit a penalty, but the time started to fritter away. Wyles had another shot at goal with two minutes to go, but missed. Still the Americans had ball and go-forward, only to lose possession in contact.
Hurt by some harsh penalties that seemed to reward ball-killing, the USA, however, had every chance to win this game. Lack of imagination, and perhaps lack of patience, at the tryline, cost them.
This was a better performance by the USA, and a worse performance by Canada, but overall some reasons for USA fans to be optimistic. But some players who needed to do really well did not. The United States has had way more possession and territory in these last two games, but has not had the wherewithal to turn it into points.
Pens: Wyles 2
Tries: Pritchard, Marshall
1. Shawn Pittman (Trinity) Ferndale, Wash.
2. Chris Biller (SFGG), San Francisco, Calif.
3. Eric Fry (London Scottish), Sacramento, Calif.
4. Louis Stanfill (Unattached, was Vicenza, Italy), Sacramento, Calif.
5. Brian Doyle (NYAC), Rockland, NY
6. Scott LaValla (Stade Francais), Olympia, Wash.
7. Peter Dahl (Belmont Shore), Long Beach, Calif.
8. Todd Clever (C) (NTT Communications), Palm Springs, Calif.
9. Robbie Shaw (Richmond), Taplow, UK
10. Toby L'Estrange (NYAC) born Berkeley, Calif.
11. Luke Hume (Old Blue/USA 7s Team) New York City
12. Andrew Suniula (Chicago Griffins) Pago Pago, American Samoa
13. Chris Wyles (Saracens) born Stamford, Conn.
14. Takudzwa Ngwenya (Biarritz) Harare, Zimbabwe
15. Blaine Scully (Leicester Tigers) Sacramento, Calif.
16. Zachary Fenoglio (Glendale Raptors), Denver, Colo. (on for Biller at 70)
17. Titi Lamositele (Chuckanut Bay RFC), Ferndale, Wash. (on for Fry at 46)
18. Phil Thiel (Life University) Traverse City, Mich.
19. Cameron Dolan (Life University) Fort Myers, Fla. (on for Stanfill at 56)
20. Derek Asbun (University of Cape Town) Alamo, Calif. (on for Dahl at 70)
21. Mike Petri (NYAC), Brooklyn, NY (on for Shaw at 56)
22. Folau Niua (USA 7s Team), East Palo Alto, Calif. (on for Andrew Suniula at 60)
23. Roland Suniula (Auch), Pago Pago, American Samoa
1- Andrew Tiedemann, (Castaway Wanderers/Prairie Wolf Pack) St. Albert, AB
2- Ray Barkwill, (Niagara Wasps RFC/Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, ON
3- Jason Marshall, (Atlantique Stade Rochelais/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
4- Jon Phelan, (Lille Metropole Rugby/Atlantic Rock) Montreal, QC
5- Tyler Hotson, (London Scottish) Vancouver, BC
6- Jebb Sinclair, (London Irish) Fredericton, NB
7- John Moonlight, (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
8- Aaron Carpenter, Captain, (Cornish Pirates) Brantford, ON
9- Phil Mack, (Uvic Vikes, BC Bears) Victoria, BC
10- Harry Jones, (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) West Vancouver, BC
11- DTH Van Der Merwe, (Glasgow Warriors) Regina, SK
12- Nick Blevins, (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
13- Ciaran Hearn, (Castaway Wanderers/Atlantic Rock) Conception Bay, NL
14- Matt Evans, (Cornish Pirates) Maple Bay, BC
15- James Pritchard, (Bedford Blues) Parkes, NSW, Australia
16- Tom Dolezel, (London St. George’s/Ontario Blues) London, ON
17- Doug Wooldridge, (Lindsay RFC/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON
18- Aaron Flagg, (Abbotsford RFC/ BC Bears) Abbotsford, BC
19- Sean Duke
20- Nanyak Dala, (Castaway Wanderers RFC/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK (on for Hotson at 56)
21- Sean White, (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC (on for Mack at 72)
22- Nathan Hirayama, (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Richmond, BC (on for Pritchard at 66)
23- Phil Mackenzie, (Sale Sharks) Oakville, ON (on for Blevins at 74)