The weather took a turn for the better this week, though there was still steam rising from the scrums in Langford. With only one more game in the icy north there should be plenty more running rugby in the next three weeks. Three teams were comfortable winners, but standards across the board still need to rise. Canada had some strong individual performances but were sloppy as a unit. The Eagles made plenty of mistakes despite running up the score in the second half against Brazil. Argentina were the most impressive side overall, but even they have room to improve. With that said, there were lots of names to consider for our best of the weekend.
1 – Djustice Sears-Duru (Canada) Played like he had a point to prove after being benched for the first game and he certainly made an impact. Got his hands on the ball and blasted through a few would-be tacklers. Had he held on to a short ball from Dan Moor he might have been clean through for a try. This looks likely to be his last week with the team before returning to Glasgow Warriors.
2 – James Hilterbrand (USA) Marcelo Brandi scored a nice try for Argentina, and Benoît Pifféro put in a few big tackles for Canada. Both, however, fell short at the lineout. Hilterbrand was handed the captaincy for the Eagles against Brazil and led by example. Hard working in the loose and his throwing was on target. Probably his best performance in a USA jersey.
3 – Santiago Medrano (Argentina XV) No tries this week, but he did a prop’s job in the Bahía Blanca sun. Scrummed well against the experienced Mateo Sanguinetti and played a supporting role in the loose with a couple nifty offload. Matt Tierney was steady for Canada while Chris Baumann made an impact for the Eagles. Both will be under the spotlight in Burnaby this weekend.
4 – Conor Keys (Canada) It was another good week for Nate Brakeley, whose link play was impressive along with the set piece. Keys, however, was the standout forward in Langford and must be rewarded for his effort. Carried with real purpose and put in a shift in defense. A memorable test debut and a promising start for the 20-year-old.
5 – Nick Civetta (USA) A straight-up choice between Brakeley and Civetta for this spot, with the latter given the nod this week. Added a few strong carries to his game and a banker in the lineout. Has shown real improvement since joining Newcastle and is working his way into the mix for a starting role in June.
6 – Anton Petrowitsch (Chile) This spot could have gone to one of several players but the Chilean flanker was again the best of Los Cóndores as they struggled in the chilly conditions at Westhills Stadium. Imperious in the lineout and all over the pitch in the loose. Absolutely flattened Phil Mack when the Canadian scrumhalf got a little too ambitious. On the other side of the pitch Lucas Rumball was noticeably more present than the week before.
7 – Tony Lamborn (USA) Has surely cemented his spot in the side for the Canada match after his man-of-the-match performance against Brazil. In constant motion, flying into tackles and bumping off defenders. Scored two tries and played a part in most. The outstanding forward of the weekend.
8 – Admir Cejvanovic (Canada) If we merged Tomás de la Vega and Santiago Montagner into one there would have been little to discuss here, but both played incomplete roles in the game. Cejvanovic was on for all 80 minutes in Langford. Known more for his powerful carrying, it was the rest of his game that impressed against Chile. Rucking, kick coverage, lineout work. Maybe not a star performance but a commendable effort.
9 – Sebastián Cancelliere (Argentina XV) Santiago Arata scored a brilliant solo try for Uruguay and Phil Mack was as game-changer in his 15-minute cameo for Canada. The pace-setter remains Cancelliere, the new darling of Argentine rugby after his hat-trick against Los Teros and a second eye-catching display of attacking rugby. His litmus test will come when he’s put under pressure. Perhaps the Eagles will oblige when they meet in Round 5.
10 – Domingo Miotti (Argentina XV) Not as sharp with his goal kicking this week but his generalship was again impressive, even more so given his age. Takes all the right options and has the ability to take on the line himself if things go sour. Very much in the conversation as a long-term successor to Nicolás Sánchez. Will Magie might have earned more consideration had he not left his kicking tee at home.
11 – Taylor Paris (Canada) Julián Domínguez, Nicolás Freitas, Nate Augspurger, Tomás Ianiszewski… there was no shortage of wing options this week. Paris was an automatic selection after this three-try performance to lead Canada over a pugnacious Cóndores side in Langord. He might have had four were it not for a bizarre ruling by the referee just before the half.
12 – Juan de Freitas (Uruguay) The best of Los Teros against a torrent of Argentine attackers. Tackled strongly, ran hard, put in two cheeky backhanded offloads and was on the spot to take a short pop from Freitas to score. Even filled in at flanker when Uruguay were a man down in the pack.
13 – Santiago Álvarez (Argentina XV) Nick Blevins had his moments for Canada but the hometown hero in Bahía Blanca must get the call. Enjoyed being back in his preferred midfield spot where his punishing defense was in full display. Two tackles in particular sent Uruguayan players reeling, while his break up the middle and inside step put him clear for a fine individual try, to the delight of the 6,000 in attendance.
14 – Dan Moor (Canada) Perhaps spurred on by his fellow Ontario native Paris, the Balmy Beach winger was all over the pitch against Chile. Repeatedly came off his right wing to pop up on the left side to great effect. A nice offload created the third Paris try and Moor grabbed one of his own to close out the evening as he barreled through Franco Velarde on his way to the line. Also put in a few solid tackles in defense. Good all-around performance.
15 – Bautista Delguy (Argentina XV) How good is this kid? No tries this week but jeez, for one of the lightest players on the pitch he is completely fearless. An absolute nightmare to tackle, he can step off either foot or beat players with pure speed. Almost never looks under pressure. The only blight on his copybook was being caught slightly out of position when Arata broke clear from the scrum. Suggestions are that he will be called up for the HSBC Sevens Series when it returns in Las Vegas. That might be the only chance anyone else gets a shot at this jersey.