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08 June 2006

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After seeing the pedestrian match between Ireland A and the Eagles this result is not a real surprise. New Zealand rugby is all about movement and fluidity.

It'll be interesting to see if Ireland is able to lift it's game against the Maori side. That may give a fair comparison of how the Eagles size up.

I'm curious to know how the fixtures get arrainged. Not that it would make a huge difference but why do the non professional Eagles play two matches in the space of four days and the professional Irish get a week off between matches.

Surely, the Eagles could use the time together on the training ground. And they would at least have had an on hand look at the Maori and perhaps been able to develop a game plan around what they saw.

The Canada game will be interesting (assuming England wins that is). Do the Eagles continue to experiment or does the best team get on the pitch in preparation for the World Cup?

Doug - The Maori played against The Waratahs on Friday in Sydney, if anything they had it harder.

The first 20 minutes of the game the Eagles looked awesome. But I'll chalk it up to inexpierence, every mistake that the eagles make the Maori scored a try. Thats the way it works against a side like this. At least they played some good rugby for a period of the game.

Salsi Sika has no idea how to play slide defense and was exposed all day, do we have any outside centers?

Francios Viljon played a fantastic game.

This was a tough one to watch...

Fitness for the eagles for the first half was excellent. I don't think there is much of a gap anymore in the physical aspect of the game between the US side and the professionals brought over from the likes of first tier nations which is an improvement for sure. However, the eagles ar not fluid in the way their rugby moves through phases.

The backs played too basic, and these BYU kids don't seem to know anything execpt how to crash the ball (How many of those guys do we need?). It would be okay if they were doing that to gain numbers on the outside, but even when the advantage showed up on the outside, the extra pass was not made.

I need to echo CT Wildcat's comments. Sika is awful. I think he has all but burned through his rep as a hard hitting college center, and has been exposed in international play as too slow to react on defense and one who plays flat footed when receiving the ball...
But even if he was an all world defender, the entire 10-12-13 line was out of position in second & third phases all night, so he would not have stopped the Maori side's brillant attacking. I couldn't tell you how many times NZ had 6 men in the back line to one or two eagles on the outside. Just too slow on defense. Not a fun one to watch for an eagle fan.

I think it is a good thing that some new combinations are being tried, there is no other way to find out what we have but given the lack of matches between now and August (and the big Canada test) I think Mr. Thorburn has to give the #1 team a run out. If Hercus is fit and our Italian stars are ready to go it's imperative that they get on the pitch against Canada to see what they may face in August.

The big Fijian fly half was not so bad against the Irish but didn't seem to run at pace onto the ball. Whether that was due to alignment or otherwise ... I don't know. I sort of think he is worth another look, perhaps playing at full back or wing - if he has the legs.

Clever is the player I have been most impressed with so far - big and athletic.

Frankly, I think it is amazing just how good New Zealand are. The game they play translates from the top side down.

Agree w/ comment immediately above: New Zealand was very impressive. Beautiful phases and ball distribution, incredibly high skill level: it was a first order thrashing. Disagree w/ comment that Eagles were competive for first 20 minutes. As soon as FV kicked the penalty for initial (short-lived) lead (first 5 minutes?), the kiwis turned it on w/ an almost immediate responding try. NZ was on a completely different rugby level than the Eagles and it was painful to watch. They appeared to me bigger, faster, stronger, and fitter. I don't doubt the Eagles commitment but commitment only takes you so far. Too much of Eagles attack seems to involve one pass and a lowering of the shoulder: stoppable mass meets immovable object. Agree w/ comments about Sika who didn't appear ready to handle the ball when it came his way. My impression was the match did improve when Alipate Tui...came on late in the match. Until he came on, NZ didn't have to expend too much energy to contain the Eagles. Outside containment by Eagles wings was also abysmal as NZ routinely broke them down around end. That said, it was a treat to watch NZ play a beautiful style of rugby. Sorry the match wasn't more competitive.

Clever is a fun one to watch. He brings a lot of intensity and goes full steam the whole match...Seeing him play through a shoulder injury also showed a lot.

I think he is an answer in the back row along side Schubert for years to come...

The reason the eagle defense was so soft on the outside is because Sika kept coming in instead moving out creating large amounts of space and overlaps.

Not saying he is a poor defender, or a bad player just that everyone else on the team is playing a slide defense and he just runs up straight. No diffrent than a saftey in football covering the wrong zone. One man taking the wrong assignment ruins it for everyone else. Test rugby defense is a 15 man system, not just "smacking people"

whatever Sika...

USAR,

So he put a couple of big hits on a you as a college player? That is completely irrelevant to the fact that Sika's defence was poor yesterday and has been every time I've seen him play for the Eagles. Not only is making a big hit a relatively small part of defence, but playing good defence against college teams is much different than playing against professionals who are more athletic and have more rugby nous.

Note: the comments of "USA Rugby" have been unpublished. As I explained in an email to the writer, it is not that they are not valid; it's that our governing body goes by that name. Thus the comments, which of course do not reflect the views of the union, could be confusing. I have invited the author to republish under another nom de plume. As always, thanks for respecting the integrity of this feature

k

You all misunderstand my words. I'm by no means defending Sika alone. He's a good player...one game against a tough doesn't change that. But the problem wasn't on him alone. CT Wildcat makes note that defense is a 15 man system. And any outside back will know that if the interior defenders and those players at the breakdown aren't doing their job, then you're in a world of hurt. Even rugby's international stars would be hard pressed to defend under those circumstances. The USA's defense isn't clicking right now, because they're not playing as a team yet. That will come with time under this new coach. But you can't single one player out because he missed some tackles, et al. Even if he had made those tackles, the result more than likely would have been the same. But if the team, particularly the interior defense and initial tacklers are able to slow the ball down then the outside defenders will have a better chance at reorganization and running constructive defensive lines.

Have a nice day you arm-chair halfbacks.

Finally got to see the US / Maori game. I wasn't going to figuring it would be similar to the embarassment that I watched in Hartord last year but was surprised to see that the Eagles really were not all that bad. In fact they competed well for decent stretches of the game.

There is a definited level of naiveness to our Eagles game but that is not a total surprise - new coach, new players, new system.

The forwards cleared the ball much more quickly than in the Ireland game and I honestly didn't see where Sika was out of alignment relative to the rest of the backs. But I am just an old hooker. The huge fly half looked threatening when he came on the field - I wouldn't give up on him yet. Vilijon looked as if he could play comfortably for any top flight team.

I think there is a lot to like about the US team. Once Hercus and our professional centers play together they will be dangerous. How about Vilijon at wing and the Fijian at fullback? Bringing him into the line at pace is something Herucus could do - it could make for some very interesting opportunities.

For a 74 - 6 scoreline that was really not half bad.

For what it's worth - if the Maori play again next year and they are in the US it may be worth a trip from the right to the left coast just to see the Haka!

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