Eagles squeeze past Georgia
Eagles squeeze past GeorgiaSHARE
The USA Eagles earned their first win in a year on Saturday with a 25-23 victory against Georgia, thanks to a last-second penalty kick from flyhalf Adam Siddall.
The Eagles continued on from their strong showing against the New Zealand Maori All Blacks last weekend in Philadelphia, though they did give up the first points. Merab Kvirikashvili kicked a penalty in the first five minutes before adding a try less than 10 minutes later in the corner. He converted for a 10-0 home team lead.
Eagles Sevens flyer Folau Niua showed the speed which has made him successful in the IRB Sevens World Series following the try by chasing down a kick in Georgia territory and earned a line-out. The Eagles maintained the good field position and were eventually rewarded with a Chris Wyles try. Siddall missed the conversion attempt to make the score 10-5 in favor of Georgia.
The Eagles committed an infraction on the restart and Kvirikashvili punished them to make it 13-5 before missing another penalty attempt. Siddall put another three points on the board with a penalty of his own minutes later.
Wyles set in motion a great team play with a 50-metre run down the field, after which he found captain Todd Clever with an offload. Before going to ground, Clever passed to Blaine Scully, who ran around the last defender to dot down between the posts. The Eagles overtook Georgia after Siddall’s conversion made it 15-13.
Just as in Philadelphia last Saturday, the Eagles entered half-time with a lead.
In the 55th minute young prop Nick Wallace received a pass after a few phases in the Eagles' attack and dummied a pass to Andrew Suniula, opening a hole in the Georgian defense for a 40-metre, try-scoring run. Siddall again kicked the extras for a 22-13 Eagles lead.
Scully failed to save a try minutes later when he tackled a Georgian player just short of the tryline as Merab Sharikadze picked up the loose ball to score. Kvirikashvali kicked the conversion to draw Georgia within two points at 22-20.
The Eagles could not find the tryline again in the remaining minutes, undone by penalty trouble. Eventually, the penalty trouble ended up helping the Eagles, as the referee signaled for play to continue after Georgia kicked to touch after 80 minutes had gone.
The Eagles won their own line-out and moved up the field quickly, though they got closer to the touch line than head coach Mike Tolkin would have hoped. They earned a penalty over 40-meters out and Clever pointed to the sticks, indicating the Eagles would kick for points.
Siddall, earning his first start at flyhalf for the Eagles, stepped up to kick from the difficult angle. He sent it through, giving the Eagles a dramatic, 25-23 win.
The Eagles had gone seven full Tests without a win, dating back to when they defeated Romania 34-3 in Bucharest. They will have one final opportunity to add another to the win column Saturday when they take on Russia at Allianz Park in London.
Tries: Kvirikashvili, Sharikadze
Convs: Kvirikashvili 2
Pens: Kvirikashvili 3
Tries: Wyles, Scully, Wallace
Cons: Siddall 2
Pens: Siddall 2
Georgia: 15 Merab Kvirikashvili, 14 Irakli Machkhaneli (captain), 13 Davit Kacharava, 12 Merab Sharikadze, 11 Tamaz Mchedlidze, 10 Lasha Khmaladze, 9 Giorgi Begadze, 8 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Viktor Kolelishvili, 5 Levan Datunashvili, 4 Konstantine Mikautadze, 3 Davit Kubriashvili, 2 Shalva Mamuka, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili.
Replacements: 16 Simon Maisuradze, 17 David Khinchagishvili, 18 Levan Chilachava, 19 Shalva Sutiashvili, 20 Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, 21 Vaja Khutsishvili, 22 Tedore Zibzibadze, 23 Beka Tsiklauri.
USA: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Folau Niua, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 Tim Maupin, 10 Adam Siddal, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Cameron Dolan, 7 Derek Asbun, 6 Todd Clever (captain), 5 Samu Manoa, 4 Graham Harriman, 3 Shawn Pittman, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Nick Wallace.
Replacements: 16 Zach Fenoglio, 17 Olive Kilifi, 18 Eric Fry, 19 Inaki Basauri, 20 John Quill, 21 Shaun Davies, 22 Seamus Kelly, 23 Luke Hume.