The Eagles took the opening restart but folded under early pressure. Because of late arriving support, Nick Edwards had to throw the ball desperately from the deck in the ruck, resulting in sloppy ball, a turnover and a try for Vincent Deniau. Terry Bouhraoua converted.
The USA then worked itself to within 10 meters of pay dirt via three-straight French penalties, but Andrew Durutalo took contact one too many times, and the ruck wasn’t sufficiently cleaned, resulting in a turnover. France got a strong dummy run through the middle of the field that distracted the American defense and assisted Bouharoua for a try. Conversion missed, France led 12-0.
Just before halftime, a hustle play from Durutalo, scooping up a loose ball from the deck and putting it back into play, gave USA a three-on-one, which Nick Edwards would score. Conversion slotted by Folau Niua, the USA trailed by five at halftime.
The Eagles were awarded a penalty shortly after the start of the second half. They toed the ball into play while a French player was still well offside and spun it wide. Niua used a dummy and a fend to break the line and offload to a hard working Matt Hawkins for a try. Conversion missed, the game was tied at 12-12.
The restart bounced into touch, giving France a lineout, but the throw was not straight. Hawkins called for a scrum, and France was penalized right after the set piece. Durutalo quick-tapped and rumbled through the French defense to give the Eagles their first lead of the game, 19-12.
France scored all too immediately when Bouharoua beat Luke Hume on the touch line and centered the ball enough for a makeable conversion. Fortunately for the USA, the kick was missed, leaving them up 19-17 with a restart to be had.
Zack Test stole possession on the kick, and the Eagles held onto the ball until the final hooter, taking the tournament-opening win.
It wasn’t a hot start for the Glasgow Plate winners, or a convincing win, but a win nonetheless.
“It started earlier in the season when we just never give up. It’s a tale of two halves. It doesn’t matter what the score is,” said Colin Hawley of the confidence to make a comeback.
“The most important thing is we got the win, we kept on improving throughout the game. We’ve just got to keep on improving in the next game and the next game.”
Up next for the Eagles is Australia at 9:02am ET.
Tries: Durutalo, Edwards, Hawkins
Cons: Suniula, Niua
Tries: Bouharoua (2), Deniau