The Wallabies have wrapped up their World Cup preparations with a 47-10 win over the USA Eagles in Chicago. It was not one for the highlights reel as the game was a very scrappy affair with the Eagles physical defence causing real concern for the Wallabies throughout the match with the score only blowing out late in the second half in the seven tries to one victory.
There were some stand outs for the Wallabies, however, with their scrum proving too dominant for the Eagles. Sean McMahon had an outstanding game and his physicality was needed as the Eagles matched their counterparts at times. The inclusion of the ‘finishers’ was also important as they put the result out of reach for the Eagles late in the game with 33 unanswered points in the second half.
The Wallabies had a nervous start with Joe Tomane knocking on as they attempted to go wide right from the kick off. But the resulting scrums were dominated by the Wallabies and thy earnt a penalty to relieve the pressure.
From there, the Wallabies attempted to use their rolling maul with new openside Sean McMahon heavily involved but with no success but they did receive four penalties in six minutes all within the Eagles half and referee Jaco Peyper finally had enough and sent former Waratah squad member Greg Peterson to the bin.
The heavy possession would eventually prove too much as Bernard Foley stepped his way past the Eagles defender and scored under the posts from a scrum five metres out and he converted his own try for a 7-0 lead after ten minutes.
The Eagles defensive line was getting up quickly and making the ball scrappy for the Wallabies attackers but on one occasion after a 22m drop out, they didn’t and let the Wallabies forwards show off their short passing game with James Slipper and Wycliff Palu featuring to put Nick Phipps away for the second try of the match.
The hosts got their opening points on the 20 minute mark with flyhalf AJ MacGinty landing a penalty goal from 40 metres out after the Wallabies were offside.
The Eagles started to get a bit of structure in their game and were led by their forwards who wanted to show their physicality around the breakdown on attack and defence with a few big tackles being dished out with Matt Giteau and Kurtley Beale, amongst others, on the receiving end at times.
The Eagles enjoyed the next period of the game as their scrambling defence saved them on one instance and then just after the 30 minute mark, they turned defence into attack and winger Takudzwa Ngwenya, who had limited opportunities until this point, set off on a scintillating run doe the right wing to put away Mike Petri away for the Eagles first try. The conversion from MacGinty reduced the gap to just four points.
The Wallabies weren’t allowed to get into any real rhythm from the Eagles rush defence and couldn’t get anything going with their attack and went into the half time break 14-10 up with the momentum in the Eagles favour despite only 31% of possession.
The Wallabies were immediately on the backfoot after the resumption after Wycliff Palu and Nick Phipps were both penalised in quick succession to give the USA a perfect attacking opportunity less than 10 metres out but knocked on in the lineout to let the Wallabies off the hook.
The ‘finishers’ started to come on at this point and their inclusion started to make a real difference. Will Genia and Dean Mumm came on and were followed shortly after by Sam Carter and Quade Cooper.
The scrum had been working very well for the Wallabies and once again showed their dominance to gain another penalty to get the Wallabies out of their 22.
Another penalty for the Wallabies saw them go for a lineout deep in the Eagles 22 and Sean McMahon again set up a rolling maul that was too much for the Eagles to stop and he went over for the third try. Foley’s conversion added some much needed breathing space to put the margin out to 11 points.
The discipline for the Eagles was starting to let them down again giving the Wallabies easy field position to attack from. Will Genia was able to get quick ball and after a number of hit ups, Dean Mumm was able to add his name to the try scorers list.
The Eagles went close again to scoring their second try after Chris Wyles collected an intercept but was brought down by the chasing Joe Tomane in sight of the line. They did gain a penalty but couldn’t execute at the lineout then all of a sudden, Kurtley Beale finished what he started after collecting a loose ball deep in his own half and after support from Henry Speight and Tomane, went over in the left corner to all but seal the game. Foley maintained his 100% kicking record to this point to make it 35-10.
With less than ten minutes to go, Quade Cooper got the nod from the TMO to score the sixth Wallabies try from a midfield scrum that saw Joe Tomane find the gap to send Cooper over on the wing.
The Wallabies weren’t done with scoring, with the Eagles losing a lineout ball right on their own line and Kurtley Beale threw a cutout pass to Foley who sent debutant Taqele Naiyaravoro over in the corner with one of his first touches in Wallaby gold.
The Game Changer
Early in the second half, Cheika sent on the finishers and immediately made a difference with the Wallabies scoring two quick tries to put the Wallabies back on control of the game with five tries in total in the second half.
The G&GR MOTM
Score & Scorers
Tries: Foley, Phipps, McMahon, Mumm, Beale, Cooper, Naiyaravoro
Conversions: Foley 6
6 mins – Peterson (USA) – Yellow