The US Eagles have won the 2017 Americas Rugby Championship. David Tameilau’s 80th minute try saw the Eagles finish in a 27-27 draw with the Argentina XV, but more importantly gave them a four-try bonus point that sees them crowned champions for the first time, with Argentina forced to look on disappointed at the final whistle.
A combative first half saw both sides aim their best weapons at their opponents but resilient defense prevented any real try-scoring chances. Domingo Miotti opened the scoring from the boot, an indication that Argentina were there to win by any means, but the USA bizarrely spurned an easy three points just a few minutes alter for a shot at the corner. The gamble didn’t pay off but they tied things up anyway after a monster Ben Cima kick from more than 50 meters and at a tricky angle.
The first try finally came, an opportunistic score for Will Magie. Chris Baumann ripped the ball clean at the breakdown and Nate Augspurger scampered away down the left flank. The winger was caught just short of the line but Magie was on hand to take the offload and dive over for the score. Cima couldn’t add the extras but the Eagles were ahead.
With the USA on the ascendency Argentina found themselves deep in their own end and under pressure. A lineout proved the perfect platform to attack and the rolling maul was driven over with replacement lock David Tameilau the one to come up with the ball. This time Cima was on target and it was a 15-3 gap with Argentina in danger of letting the game slip.
Captain Lautaro Bavaro asked his side to lift their game and they responded. The Eagles held out in the scrum but Mike Te’o batted down what would have been a scoring pass and the referee awarded the penalty try and a yellow card for Te’o as the half ended.
Two strange incidents marred the opening of the second act, as the assistant referee stepped into the game to put Tameileu in the bin for an apparent foot stomp, though the replay suggested that was not the case. The same official then interjected a minute later to send Sebastián Cancelliere as well, this time the call a complete mystery with the replay showing no foul play.
The pressure continued to come from Argentina, and with Tameilau off and Cam Dolan forced to step into the second row the scrum began to creak at last. From a 5 meter put-in the Eagles front row stood up and the referee had no option but to head under the posts for another penalty try.
With the teams back at full strength Miotti added a second penalty goal before another Argentina struck another blow. A sneaky break by Lautaro Bazán put Tomás de la Vega in the clear and the no8 showed his passing skills to finish the two-on-one and send Gabriel Ascárate in for another try.
Now 12 points adrift the Eagles needed some inspiration and they got it as numerous phases yielded space out wide for Dolan to exploit and he needed no second invitation, crossing in the corner for a vital score. The attack didn’t stop there and with Argentina on their heels it was Tameilau who broke through for his second from close range, dotting down under the posts. Cima’s conversion made the scores 27 apiece and with the bonus point from the try it was enough to celebrate an unlikely victory.
ARGENTINA XV 27
Tries – Penalty try (40’), Penalty try (53’), G. Ascárate (63’)
Cons – D. Miotti (64’)
Pens – D. Miotti 2 (7’, 56’)
Yellow cards – S. Cancelliere (45’)
Tries – W. Magie (29’), D. Tameilau 2 (37’, 80’), C. Dolan (74’)
Cons – B. Cima 2 (38’, 80’)
Pens – B. Cima (15’)
Yellow cards – M. Te’o (40’), D. Tameilau (44’)
1 Francisco Ferronato (18 Eduardo Bello 60’), 2 Gaspar Baldunciel (16 Marcelo Brandi 46’), 3 Santiago Medrano (17 Nicolás Solveyra 69’), 4 Pedro Ortega (19 Franco Molina 66’), 5 Ignacio Larrague, 6 Francisco Gorrissen (20 Santiago Montagner 73’), 7 Lautaro Bavaro (capt.), 8 Tomás de la Vega, 9 Sebastián Cancelliere (21 Lautaro Bazán 57’), 10 Domingo Miotti, 11 Julián Domínguez, 12 Bruno Devoto, 13 Santiago Álvarez (22 Juan Cruz González 54’), 14 Germán Schulz, 15 Gabriel Ascárate (23 Franco Cuaranta 71’)
1 Anthony Purpura (17 Ben Tarr 57’), 2 James Hilterbrand (16 Peter Malcolm 46’), 3 Chris Baumann (18 Olive Kilifi 57’) , 4 Matt Jensen, 5 Siaosi Mahoni (20 David Tameilau 25’), 6 John Quill (19 Hanco Germishuys 64’), 7 Tony Lamborn, 8 Cam Dolan, 9 Shaun Davies (23 Spike Davis 71’), 10 Will Magie (22 Ryan Matyas 64’), 11 Nate Augspurger (capt.), 12 JP Eloff (21 Calvin Whiting 66’), 13 Bryce Campbell, 14 Mike Te’o, 15 Ben Cima
Referee: Joaquín Montes (URU)
Assistants: Santiago Altobelli (UAR) & José Covassi (UAR)