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Momentum Shifts Crush USA Hopes vs Argentina

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Momentum Shifts Crush USA Hopes vs Argentina

Clive Rose World Rugby via Getty Images.

Less than two minutes into the USA's Rugby World Cup game against Argentina the Eagles were screwed by the referee.

There's no other way to put it. Paul Williams, a good referee, made such a big mistake he had to apologize, but the decision quite possibly cost the USA a try. Did that change the game? Maybe. If the Eagles had scored that early maybe they could have controlled the game a bit more. Certainly they would have been in a better position.

The moment came when AJ MacGinty dislodged the ball from Argentina hands. USA lock Greg Peterson consolidated and then Mike Te'o chipped the ball ahead. The ball was obviously tipped by an Argentinian hand, meaning everyone is onside. Scrumhalf Ruben de Haas caught he ball and had a three-on-one and chipped ahead for his support to chase. Marcel Brache had a try on a silver platter.

But Williams brought the play back to the original Argentina knock-on. It cost the USA a try, and was an inexcusable call in a World Cup.

That said, Argentina beat more USA defenders, made fewer lineout mistakes, and missed fewer tackles ... and won 47-17.

After that try-scoring chance, the teams played to a bit of a standstill, although the USA runners looked effective. But with more ball and more territory the USA could not break through the Argentina defense easily.

The Eagles dodged a bullet at 10 minutes. Argentina got a penalty right in front of the posts, and passed up the penalty kick and instead took a scrum. Off the scrum, scrumhalf Felipe Ezcurra seemed over for the try, but both Tony Lamborn and Paul Lasike were impeded in trying to make a tackle, and the try was called back. 

Nicolas Sanchez scored at 18 minutes, and converted, and then fullback Joaquin Tuculet raced over at 24 and 34 minutes for a 19-0 lead. Tuculet chased a nice grubber that eluded Mike Te'o, and then off yet another USA penalty (which should have been a penalty against Argentina for holding-on), the Pumas bashed the line and then Tuculet shrugged off a high tackle and go over.

With less than two minutes to go in the first half, the Eagles finally got some points. They had the penalty advantage and after a nice half-break from Lasike, MacGinty sent a perfect grubber to the corner and Blaine Scully raced in to nab it and score. 

Down 19-5 the Eagles hoped to get some momentum, but that didn't happen. The Pumas torched the Americans for three tries in the opening part of the second half, and took the game back.

Now down 40-5, the Americans got something back. After a well-run maul, they ran Lasike on a flat pass from Nate Augspurger, eluded one tackler, and dragged two more over the line. With his head wrapped up thanks to a nasty scalp cut suffered two minutes in, Lasike was fired up, and paired nicely with Bryce Campbell to asked questions of the Argentina defense.

There was more consolation to come. With time up the USA got a penalty in the scrum and a superb kick from Will Hooley set up a maul. The forwards bashed it close to the line and then a long pass from Hooley hit an unmarked Scully, and the captain finished it off in the corner.

So,yes, the USA can play rugby and can had a game plan. But inopportune penalties, key turnovers, and too many missed tackles exacerbated by a very effective Argentina backline attack, killed them.

And it didn't help to have the referee cost them a try through a mistake.

Argentina 47
Tries: Sanchez, Tuculet 2, Mallia 2, De La Fuente, Bertranou
Convs: Sanchez 5, Urdapilleta

USA 17
Tries: Scully 2, Lasike
Convs: MacGinty


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