March 29, 2014 (ISN) – The USA will compete at Rugby World Cup 2015 in England after cutting loose in the second half to defeat a spirited Uruguay 32-13 (59-40 on aggregate) in Atlanta on Saturday.
The Eagles will take their place in Pool B at Rugby’s showcase event alongside 2007 champions South Africa, Samoa, Scotland and the top Asian qualifier.
Securing a place also maintains USA’s excellent Rugby World Cup participation record having qualified for every tournament with the exception of 1995.
Heading into the decisive leg in Atlanta the two teams were inseparable after playing out a pulsating 27-27 draw, but USA moved up a gear in the second half with a display of pace, class and determination in front of a vociferous near-capacity crowd at Kennesaw State University.
A cagey start was dominated by the rain, Uruguay’s strong scrummaging and USA’s indiscipline as two players received yellow cards within the first quarter. The visitors broke the deadlock after as series of scrums near the USA line resulted in a try finished by Joaquin Prada. The conversion secured a 0-7 lead.
The score kick-started the home team who went close twice and after Uruguay’s captain Arturo Avalo was sin binned for an illegal tackle, Chris Wyles took the opportunity to reduce the deficit with the resulting penalty, but it was short-lived as Felipe Berchesi struck two long-range penalties in quick succession to give Uruguay a 3-13 lead at the interval.
Then came the comeback. Prop Eric Fry burrowed over from short range before Mike Petri’s moment of brilliance from a tap penalty put USA ahead for the first time. Wyles converted both and the Eagles lead 17-13.
Shalom Suniula added the Eagles’ third try and his brother Andrew added the fourth as the match suddenly opened up, now bathed in brilliant sunshine. Wyles secured a 32-13 victory with a long-range penalty.
USA Head Coach Mike Tolkin said: “I am delighted that we have secured at place at Rugby World Cup. We were confident that we would break them (Uruguay) and I am pleased with the composure and leadership today.”
While Uruguay’s hopes of qualification are not over Rugby World Cup 2015, Los Teros must now negotiate the tricky Repechage process where the second place Asian team will have to be beaten before facing the winner of the Europe/Africa process in the final.
Uruguay Head Coach Pablo Lemoine added: “It was disappointing to lose, but I am really proud of my players, who showed great character. We just could not keep up the pressure for a full 80 minutes two weeks in a row. We now look to the Repechage process.”
International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “I would like to congratulate USA for qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England. The Eagles are renowned for their superb support and USA fans can look ahead to next year to an outstanding event on and off the field and a celebration of Rugby, its character-building values and England.”
Fans from around the world wishing to experience Rugby’s showcase event can purchase official supporter tour packages via www.rugbyworldcup.com/supportertours
USA V URUGUAY, RUGBY WORLD CUP 2015 QUALIFIER: SATURDAY, MARCH 29, KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY, ATLANTA
USA: 1. Olive Kilifi; 2. Phil Thiel; 3. Eric Fry; 4. Louis Stanfill; 5. Samu Manoa; 6. Todd Clever (C); 7. Scott LaValla; 8. Cam Dolan; 9. Mike Petri; 10. Toby L’Estrange; 11. Luke Hume; 12. Andrew Suniula; 13. Seamus Kelly; 14. Blaine Scully; 15. Chris Wyles
Replacements: 16. Tom Coolican; 17. Nick Wallace; 18. Titi Lamositele; 19. Tai Tuisamoa; 20. Kyle Sumsion; 21. Shalom Suniula; 22. Tim Maupin; 23. Folau Niua
Uruguay: 1. Aleja Corral; 2. Arturo Avalo (C); 3. Oscar Duran; 4. Santiago Vilaseca; 5. Mathias Palomeque; 6. Juan Manuel Gaminara; 7. Diego Magno; 8. Alejandro Nieto; 9. Agustin Ormaechea; 10. Felipe Berchesi; 11. Jeronimo Etcheverry; 12. Andres Vilaseca; 13. Joaquin Prada; 14. Leandro Leivas; 15. Gaston Mieres
Replacements: 16. Cristofer Soares de Lima; 17. Rodolfo de Mula; 18. Mario Sagario Cagnani; 19. Carlos Pombo; 20. Franco Lammana; 21. Juan de Freitas Turcatti; 22. Alejo Duran; 23. Francisco Bulanti
Referee: Greg Garner (England)
- 17 mins Andrew Suniula yellow card
- 21 mins Nick Wallace yellow card
- 23 mins Prada try, Berchesi con 0-7
- 34 mins Arturo Avalo yellow
- 36 mins Chris Wyles pen 3-7
- 37 mins Felipe Berchesi pen 3-10
- 40 mins Felipe Berchesi pen 3-13
- 47 mins Eric Fry try, Wyles con 10-13
- 62 mins Mike Petri try, Wyles try 17-13
- 66 mins Shalom Suniula try, Wyles con 24-13
- 68 mins Andrew Suniula try 29-13
- 76 mins Chris Wyles pen 32-13