Eagles chosen for pre-RWC rivalry match north of the border

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OTTAWA – The Men’s Eagles kick off the final leg of their pre-Rugby World Cup 2015 tour Saturday, Aug. 22, against Canada.

Following a 2-2 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup campaign – during which the U.S. defeated the border rival in Burnaby, British Columbia – the Eagles took a two-week rest before reconvening in Burlington, Vt., last week. Saturday’s match will be played at Twin Elm Rugby Park at 4 p.m. ET and can be viewed in the United States on ESPN 3 and the WatchESPN digital platform.

AJ MacGinty (Dublin, Ireland) sealed the 15-13 win over Canada with an 80th-minute drop goal, and led the Eagles in PNC scoring with 44 points. The fly half will sit behind scrum half Mike Petri (Brooklyn, N.Y.)Saturday to give the backs accurate, decisive ball.

Thretton Palamo (Woodland, Calif.) and Seamus Kelly (Queens, N.Y.) resume the partnership built throughout the course of the past year, dating back to the Eagles’ November 2014 match against Fiji in France. Brett Thompson(Tempe, Ariz.) earns his fourth start for the U.S. on the wing opposite Blaine Scully (Sacramento, Calif.), who has scored three tries against Canada since 2011.

“We have good talent in the centers and we want to continue to rotate them,” Head Coach Mike Tolkin said. “They each bring positive characteristics in their play, and slightly different skill sets. We expect a balanced center pairing of solid defense, playmaking skills, and a strong running game.

“Thompson is part of an athletic back-three group and we want him to get more game time under his belt. [Height and speed] are desirable in today’s game with more kicking involved in the face of stronger defenses. Wings need to be aerial as well as strong runners with the expected speed of a finisher.”

The pack remains largely unchanged from the starting eight that kept Canada’s set pieces quiet earlier this month, with Zach Fenoglio (Denver), Eric Fry (Davis, Calif.), and Titi Lamositele (Bellingham, Wash.) retaining their positions in the front row. Al McFarland’s (Sydney, Australia) second start and fourth cap will come as a flanker, while the U.S. will count on Andrew Durutalo’s (Suva, Fiji) tenacity in the contact area to strip Canada of possession.

Cam Dolan (Fort Myers, Fla.) will lock beside Greg Peterson (Sydney, Australia) at a position the now-member of Cardiff Blues played in the Eagles’ 23-18 defeat of Japan in Sacramento. Danny Barrett (Pacifica, Calif.) will anchor the scrum in his sixth consecutive start at no. eight.

Captain and full back Chris Wyles (Allentown, Pa.) will have a strong team of veteran leadership on the pitch as well as in the reserves Saturday, as Louis Stanfill (Sacramento) of 53 caps, Andrew Suniula (Auckland, New Zealand), and Phil Thiel (Traverse City, Mich.) offer substitution options. Matt Trouville (Sydney, Australia) has also joined the squad ahead of the matches against Canada, Harlequin F.C. in Philadelphia, and Australia at Soldier Field in Chicago, all to be played prior to leaving for England.

Despite holding 79th-minute leads against both the U.S. and Samoa in the PNC, Canada finished the six-team tournament 0-4. The defeat of Canada, which featured three yellow cards shown to the U.S., was also the only one of the four summer matches in which the Eagles were kept out of the in-goal area.

“[We need] the pack to be strong in the set pieces, the ball-carriers to run strong at the line, and the supporting cast must work hard to win the ball at the tackle area,” Tolkin said. “All of our forwards need to be intelligent and uncompromising in defense, especially in first-up tackles.”

Kickoff from Twin Elm Rugby Park in Canada’s capital city is set for 4 p.m. ET. TSN will provide the live broadcast in Canada. Follow @USARugby on Twitter for live match updates and visit USARugby.org for a post-match recap.

Men’s Eagles | v. Canada 
1. Eric Fry 
2. Zach Fenoglio 
3. Titi Lamositele 
4. Cameron Dolan 
5. Greg Peterson 
6. Al McFarland 
7. Andrew Durutalo 
8. Danny Barrett 
9. Mike Petri 
10. AJ MacGinty 
11. Brett Thompson 
12. Thretton Palamo 
13. Seamus Kelly 
14. Blaine Scully 
15. Chris Wyles (C)

Men’s Eagles | Reserves 
16. Phil Thiel 
17. Olive Kilifi 
18. Chris Baumann 
19. Louis Stanfill 
20. Matt Trouville 
21. John Quill 
22. Niku Kruger 
23. Andrew Suniula

Canada | v. USA 
1. Hubert Buydens 
2. Ray Barkwill 
3. Doug Wooldridge 
4. Tyler Hotson 
5. Jon Phelan 
6. Nanyak Dala 
7. John Moonlight 
8. Aaron Carpenter (C) 
9. Gordon McRorie 
10. Nathan Hirayama 
11. Taylor Paris 
12. Nick Blevins 
13. Conor Trainor 
14. Phil Mackenzie 
15. Harry Jones

Canada | Reserves 
16. Benoit Piffero 
17. Djustice Sears-Duru 
18. Andrew Tiedemann 
19. Evan Olmstead 
20. Kyle Gilmour 
21. Phil Mack 
22. Ciaran Hearn 
23. Matt Evans

Men’s Eagles | Pre-Rugby World Cup Tour 
v. Canada – Saturday, Aug. 22 – 4 p.m. ET – Twin Elm Rugby Park – Ottawa, Ontario 
v. Harlequin F.C. – Sunday, Aug. 30 – 3 p.m. ET – PPL Park – Chester, Pa. 
v. Australia – Saturday, Sept. 5 – 7:30 p.m. ET – Soldier Field – Chicago, Ill.

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