The Men’s Eagles came into Thursday night’s match up ranked 10 positions lower than their English opponents, but you wouldn’t have known it given the overwhelming patriotic support from fans at home and in Japan. The party came to a stop at Kobe Misaki Stadium as England took ownership of the match early and never let up on their way to a 45-7 victory. Knowing the opening match would be the hardest test, the United States heads off to Fukuoka for their next fixture with France, October 2 on NBC Sports Network.
England dominated at scrum time and caught the USA on their heels on the wings to display a textbook performance. Missed tackles plagued the Eagles in open space and the score line reflected. England’s lopsided possession resulted in 157 carries vs 58 for England and the USA respectively.
Despite the overwhelming score, the American offense was able to click after time expired and allow Bryce Campbell a try off the bench. When asked post-match if he was happy with any facet of his team’s game, Head Coach Gary Gold simply answered, “No.”
Likely the most physical 80 minutes this team has played in some time, the hard-nosed England Red Roses came out swinging where George Ford opened scoring up the middle. Billy Vunipola and Luke Cowan-Dicke followed suite and only 32 minutes in, the United States was down 19 points.
In the early going, it seemed the United States would hold their own against the World Ranked #3 team. Possession would go back and fourth from the opening kick off, but an early injury exit from David Ainu’u slowed the US momentum. Going into halftime however, the lead was however a manageable 19-0.
The second half resulted in a shoot out for England as four separate players earned tries, bringing the total to seven when it was all said and done. The United States faced with an uphill battle, not knowing where the threat would come from at each corner of the pitch.
Troubles would pile up for the United States in the later half of the final 40 minutes where a no-arm tackle from John Quill earned a red card and scuffle on the pitch. Similarly, Will Hooley took a high hit and was carted off the field. In noticeable pain, Hooley was however mobile and waived to the crowd when exiting.
The one glimmer of light came after time had expired where Ruben De Haas and Martin Iosefo found open space and sprinted the ball toward the English line. Despite a turnover to, Ben Landry was able to counter ruck and find Bryce Campbell up the middle. USA chants emerged from the crowd and the USA had their first try of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
When asked about the final try, Captain Blaine Scully commented, “It was probably indicative of our effort, I guess it was fortunate to get one on the scoreboard.”
Scully continued, “England is a really good rugby team, we didn’t have much possession but proud of the effort and we have a few areas for us to clean up.”
The United States now moves on to Fukuoka where France awaits following a victory over Argentina. That match along with each Pool C fixture can be seen LIVE on NBC Sports Network and NBC Sports Gold.
PHOTO CREDIT – MIKE LEE