Wallabies too good for the Eagles - Green and Gold Rugby

Wallabies too good for the Eagles

Wallabies too good for the Eagles

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 Match

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.


2014-sean-mcmahon_tnSean McMahon – Playing in the unfamiliar openside flanker position but was one of the best Wallabies out there in the scrappy match.

The Details

Score & Scorers

Tries: Foley, Phipps, McMahon, Mumm, Beale, Cooper, Naiyaravoro
Conversions: Foley 6

USA 10
Tries: Petri
Conversions: MacGinty
Penalties: MacGinty


6 mins – Peterson (USA) – Yellow

Crowd: 23,212

Will gets friendly with his opposite number.

  • astamax

    Again, good showing mid to late by the wallabies, bit of rust in the first half. Fitness was key…

  • Best Aussie performance on the night with respect to the RWC was Foley’s goalkicking. 6 from 7 and the missed one was very close. Several of those were from the sidelines.

  • onlinesideline

    no injuries – thank goodness – looks like Leigh Halfpenny is out of RWC from injury against Italy ..scans on Monday but very rear a player lies on side grasping at knee in alot of pain without being our for 4-6 weeks minimum

    • Keith Butler

      Looks like the Welsh have lost their scrum half as well. Both look like serious injuries but I suppose it all depends on what the scans show. Hope they both make speedy recoveries.

  • Dom Par

    A few thoughts:

    -McMahon’s running game was excellent, as well as pulling off some hard hits in the second half.
    -Palu and McCalman were pretty poor. Their line-speed (or total lack of), was really found out. McCalman can play for 80 mins (but not today because of the extra bench forward) and not contribute much, while Palu can play 60, but only contribute for the first 30. Either way not very good. Its a broken record, but Jones or Gill are probably more deserving.
    -USA line defense was very, very impressive. The broken field defense was terrible though.
    – I feel really sorry for McMahon, he probably won’t get picked purely on his height, purely because Skelton/Pocock/Hooper are poor jumpers. It would put too much pressure on Fardy/Simmons/ and whoever the bench lock will be.

  • Rob Malcolm

    Scrum good.
    Line-out good.
    Goal-kicking good.
    Clean-out good.
    Defence OK.
    Shape in attack needs work – too deep.
    Kicking bad.
    Box kick Genia wtf

    • Nutta

      Largely agree. You can’t get too invested in these games as they won’t be allowed to be sublime for a lot of reasons

      I wouldn’t read too much into scrum dominance, but good to see nonetheless.

      Three times McM disconnected from the tail of the maul. This is the weakness in the tail-gunner approach because he’s not committed to the maul. I think that refs will be attuned to that at Bill as they look for elements to make the maul “compete-able”. Watch that space for penalties.

      Still a bit deep in attack and was sorry to see the lateral approach before establishing go-forward.

      Open play kicking still an issue. Not accurate enough. Although nice to see Foley improved his averages a bit

      There was a lesson to be learnt here about a big, blitzing, aggressive crash-tackling centre. Gee I wonder whom against we are going to see another one of those?

      But given they were likely a fatigued group and certainly not a cohesive group, it was a good win

      Folk will get aggro at me, but my MOTM was Dougy but certainly McM played with great physicality as did Big Dog. Great to see Toby get his run (note he played TH & Slipper stayed at LH). Likewise Naiyaravoro and his try. But if that was Scotty Sio’s throwing then I’m not relaxed about that.

      • Rob Malcolm

        Yeah, agree Douglas was impressive for 80 mins. And great to have Simmonds back. The combination seemed effective too: line-out, scrum and open play were all impressive for 2 guys’ first hit-outs and hardly having played together.

      • Avid

        Noting your point re centres
        – ‘There was a lesson to be learnt here about a big, blitzing, aggressive crash-tackling centre’.
        Do we have anyone with experience to switch between 12 and 13 ala Fekitoa, SBW and Nonu?

        • Nutta

          We do but we don’t tend to pick them as we play the 2nd 5/8 approach – Mitch Inman and Kyle Godwin are two that spring to mind. K-Train is the closest we have who is in favour

      • idiot savant

        Did Douglas play?

        • Nutta

          Thats actually a compliment to his willingness for unsung tight play. Took the first 4 lineouts, good shape at scrum, effective clean outs. Did a lot of really good tight work.

        • idiot savant

          I’m all for unsung tight play, but he was really just doing his job at the ruck. Cant remember a carry or too many tackles which are part of the job of the tight five as well and which all the others managed their fair share of. I understand he lack match fitness which he why he played 80 but I’m not not waxing lyrical on a few hard clean outs. I think every other forward worked harder, even Palu.

    • Simon

      Clean out good but pilfers bad. Really showed what we miss with no Pocock and no Fardy. I think it took until about 60 minutes for a ruck penalty and that was Slipper.

  • jamie

    McMahon is an open side by trade and it’s his natural and preferred position.

    Also, he’s the closest non-pooper we have to a pooper. On the bench for the RWC. He’s a good lineout jumper too despite his height

    • John Tynan

      A quote for the ages!

      “he’s the closest non-pooper we have to a pooper”

    • Who?

      Seen you spruiking this for a while… Think it’s wrong. He’s the closest to a non-Hooper version of Hooper that we have, but the question is how you see the role of the openside. He’s clearly an excellent ball runner, and a very strong tackler. Which is a Hooper. But he’s not a breakdown pest in the manner of Pocock, so you can’t have the ‘P’ section of Pooper with him. If you wanted to say that McMill (McMahon and Gill) was the closest thing to a Pooper (Pocock and Hooper), that’d be pretty hard to argue…

      • jamie

        He’s very good with cleanouts and ruck support, however he’s not a turnover master like Pocock is.

  • Simon

    Handling errors and poor communication hampered the backline. Consistency is the key but Cheika has been mix-n-matching every game so we haven’t had any time to build any. Hopefully now he’s tried out practically every 9-10-12 combo under the sun he’ll pick one and stick to it.

    Speaking of which, on that game you’d say Genia has to be our starting 9 (still banned from box kicking though). The last 20 of the first half was a shambles. Phipps has already shown in the RC that he doesn’t react well to pressure at the breakdown, the Wallabies weren’t committing enough players and with the ref allowing the Eagles a lot of freedom in terms of offside (it was like watching 15 Richies in white) it all went to pieces for the Wallabies. They were lucky not to go into half time behind.

    As soon as Genia came on he was clearing the ball quicker and passing much flatter, which negated the Eagles’ impressive line speed and finally allowed us to run rampant.

    Foley did well, I’d prefer we had Genia-Giteau-Toomua but I won’t whinge too much if it’s Genia-Foley-Giteau and Toomua on the bench.

    Scrum was brutal. Lineout was solid, except for Sio’s throw which was problematic. Overall, not too bad given we didn’t have Folau, Pocock, Hooper, Fardy, AAC and Toomua, but some worrying signs in the backline. Time to make a choice and stick with it to build some consistency.

    • Mike

      Whichever of our half backs comes on second always looks better. I would rather have Phipps in the first half when the pressure is really on. And the reason it looked especially bad in the second quarter is because our forwards were standing around a lot with hands on hips.

      • Big Ted

        I’ve said this before about Phipps, but he is great when we are on the front foot as his faster service allows us to keep momentum. But when we lack real go forward his “fast service at all costs” with no consideration for a snipe or kick only plays to a rush defence like the one employed by the USA

        • Peter Adams

          Problem is, Genia’s still clearing too slow. At his best, he mixes running, kicking and quick service. I’m a bit disappointed Giteau hasn’t been looked at for 9. He had that all round 9 game too when he started in rugby.

  • Owen Davies

    23,212 spectators? Does not look the financial windfall sought by either the USRU or ARU.

    • Sarah TT

      Australians don’t turn out to watch their Wallabies. What makes you think a bunch of Americans would?

      • Avid

        This is the wrong place to make a bad assertion about rugby and patriotism.
        Ask an American if they hate losing basketball to Russia, or rugby to Canada.
        I like the quote ‘build it, and they will come’.

  • Gilbert

    I agree loved McMahon’s attitude. Palu played himself out of a position as did Tomane, Tomane’s defence has always been poor, he tracks the player and does not attack and tackle. Why the fu** Kane is in the team stumps me. Munn and Carter played better than him. MCalman put his hand up I thought. ANd as an ex boer that little South Arican with a big whistle Pepper Pig Pepyper has to be one of the worst refs in the game he missed a lot.

    • idiot savant

      but did he miss them on purpose? Theres a certain minnows latitude applied by smart refs in favour of sides out matched. Its good for the game and good for the better side as it highlights things, like the need to vary the point of attack to slow rush defence.

  • Jets Rule

    A sobering reality check in the global pulling power of the All Blacks versus anyone else. The All Blacks go through Chicago last year and draw a sell-out crowd of 61,000. The Number 2 ranked Wallabies come through 1 year later and only 37% want to turn up. The U.S. such an untapped market — but clearly it is a discerning audience.

    • TB

      Yeah but AIG pored a heap of money into the advertising go the AB. This match was left up to USA rugby who have even less money than us and no real corporate structure for marketing. It is good they got over 20k.

      • gwch

        Also, I believe that this game was a clash with the start of the US’s college football season. Unfortunately getting the timing right for a WC warm up probably hurt the game’s chances as a commercial spectacle/success.

        • Nutta

          Yep. US rugby promoted and clashed with college kickoff so we were snookered before we started re crowd

        • Aaron

          The AB game clashed with the middle of college football season. That ain’t an excuse for the much lower turnout, especially in Chicago which ain’t a college football town.

        • gwch

          I’m happy to defer to your superior knowledge of US college football – it has been decades since I lived in there as a child – but is it correct to say Chicago isn’t much of a college football town? I always thought that there was a significant following, but it was split among a number of teams rather than largely falling behind one principal team.

        • Aaron

          The city of Chicago is indeed a great sports town but football interest is very skewed towards their beloved pro. team the Chicago Bears. The fact the entire state of Illinois only has 3 colleges with a football program leaves local fans little to cheer for with the best of them Northwestern hardly a national powerhouse. It is quite a comparison to the other nearby mid-west states of Michigan, Ohio & Wisconsin and nowhere close to the interest in college football across the bigger states Texas, Florida and California plus all through the south.

          As a final note, everyone knows the 1st week of college football is typically a whole series of mis-matches as the big schools warm up against lesser opponents. The real conference games begin in weeks 2-3. Go Bears!

    • Avid

      Doesnt matter compared to the news flashes about how well the US team did v #2 in the world. And they did. Does the US public really relish a 76-0 drubbing? Aus gave the game there a huge leg up. Rugby wins.
      Are you Spiro Zavos?

      • Jets Rule

        I guess we will see next year because the USRU are negotiating to bring the New Zealand All Blacks back to Soldier Field. No – I am not some journalist who writes for the Sydney Morning Herald. I am a rugby fan from NYC.

        • Avid

          Since the disheartening and tedious 76-6 rout of last year, it was terrific to see the Eagles improvement since, plus the avail of OS and Sevens players. Routs are not good for promoting US rugby. Playing NZ Maori would be more beneficial.

          Assuming your #1 team is USA not NZ, you’d want your national team to play the ‘US way’ not NZs way.
          Realistically, I’d rather watch my national team post their exciting effort v #2.

          BTW Kiwi Spiro gratingly preaches NZ rugby in Aus. Not a good thing.

    • Billy Bob Vanderwaal

      There were a lot of things working against it:
      – little to no advertising
      – in Chicago (again) rugby is really a niche sport in the US still. They need to move these “big” games around, alternating locations in So. Cal, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, NYC, Washington DC, etc…

      – conflicting with the first weekend of college football is a big deal, especially if you’re hoping to capture some of the idle interest market.
      I’d say considering things, it did very well to get ~25K there.

  • Jamie Miller

    American commentators for MoM. I liked “takeaway” (ripping the ball off someone else) and “intermission” (half time). But when they descibed Michael Cheika as a “mild-mannered, philosophical kinda guy”, that removed all doubt that they had no idea what they were talking about.

    • Peter Adams

      “mild-mannered and philosophical”…Cheiks is clearly in camp mode, it’s a good sign. That manner will gradually become less mild, I’m sure.

    • Billy Bob Vanderwaal

      Hightower wasn’t terrible more mediocre, he actually played the sport at least, but the other guy was plain awful.

  • Robbo_76

    Just a small side point from me – I have thought Foley has been poor each time he has played for the Wallabies this year and thought he was very good today. I recognise the opposition wasn’t awesome, but he had almost no errors, still some missed tackles, but great goal kicking (general play kicking still not great) compared to his recent form which was nice to see. If he is starting 5/8 I don’t think we can progress too far in the RWC, but I am more confident now in him than I was before.

  • Gottsy

    You’re right about it being scrappy! Hopefully that’s the last we see of that kind of play this year.

  • Don’t want to seem pedantic but McMahon can’t set up a maul by himself and neither can the jumper, Douglas.
    Mauls are a team play.
    I think its a blight on the game, but you’ve got to be in it!

    • Richard

      Lineout mauls, scrum re-sets and the current offside line are the 3 blights on the sport needing the greatest attention from the IRB. I fear the quality of skilled rugby at this upcoming RWC could be the worst yet.

  • Jack

    Super impressed with the US rush defence – They made a mess of the Wallabies attack and the 14-10 halftime scoreline despite only 31% possession is a credit to them. Fair enough the offside wasn’t policed all that hard but I’d be surprised if we didn’t see this defensive pattern rolled out against us again in the next few weeks.

  • Jets Rule

    Smart strategy. Both the NZRU and USRU made a boat load from the game.


Canberra born and bred Rugby fan brought up on Canberra Kookaburra and ACT Brumbies Rugby.

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