The USA get the win but not the bonus point in their 20-8 win over Uruguay in the last round of the Americas Rugby Championship. Probably not the performance the USA was hoping in terms of a peak, but a win nonetheless.
The first half was frustrating, regardless of what side you're on. Uruguay owned the first quarter in terms of possession and exerted their dominance in the set pieces. The South Americans were able to drive their lineouts downfield and send the Americans' scrum skittering backward; however, they were overambitious. Those drives disintegrated and the Americans did well to retrieve possession during the ensuant rucks.
However, play overall was not fluid. The breakdowns were slow, and the USA was called for several penalties that turned good scoring opportunities into long Uruguay kicks to touch. The USA was keeping the ball tight and we didn't see much of the outside backs in play save a couple of runs. All the scoring was seen in the form of penalty kicks, the first from Uruguay's Joaquín Prada, the second from Joe Cowley. The USA needed to hold onto and spread the ball in the second half, and that's exactly what they did.
The Eagles rallied with the most exciting quarter of the game, as three tries worked their way onto the board.
The first came off a sweet inside line from Nick Wallace, who powered through the scrambling defense and then linked up with Chris Chapman out wide. A couple of pummels toward the line eventually saw Chapman skirt into the corner, 8-3.
Minutes later, the USA got into good territory thanks to a Uruguay penalty in the scrum. L'Estrange put up a chip kick that Maximo de Achaval sacrificed his body for in order to reign in. Chapman was there for the support, picked right from the base and linked up with Danny Barrett for the try, 13-3.
The Eagles kept up the pressure and three minutes later the USA was back on the board. The kick set up the score again, as Shaun Davis box-kicked over the ruck and L'Estrange was in the fortunate position for the Uruguay knock-on and try. Cowley hit the conversion for the 20-3 lead.
Uruguay retook the momentum after that flurry of action. They retained the majority of possession in the final quarter and were rewarded with a dive-over try in the 68th minute, 20-8. But although some risky offloads paid off in territory, they committed too many late errors to add onto their tally.
Tries: Chapman, Barrett, L'Estrange