Irish team fielding three Lions proves too strong for inexperienced Eagles on hot evening in front of crowd of more than 22,000
An injury to fly-half Joey Carbery, who had two kicks charged down for tries, interrupted a win for Ireland in a Test that showed the gap that still exists between rugbys haves and have-nots.
In truth, the USA have more than they once did: John Mitchells Eagles were well drilled and well lead by two overseas pros: Sale fly-half AJ MacGinty and New Zealander Tony Lamborn on the openside flank. Still, a lack of time together and semi-pros in key positions fed into familiar problems: a scrum that struggled, a defensive line that ran ragged a little too soon. Joe Schmidts Ireland, with two Lions starting and another on the bench, made holes and ran through them all game.
Joey just sprained his ankle a bit, said Schmidt. We thought it pertinent to get him off. We dont know what the story is yet. It hasnt swelled too much but it was a bit tender. Well see how it settles and get a scan either here or once we arrive in Tokyo.
John Mitchell, a former All Blacks head coach, will leave the Eagles at the end of their summer series, which continues against Georgia next week and in a two-legged World Cup qualifier with Canada.
We were outclassed today, he said. Were disappointed, defensively we had some issues with our setting which cost us. Mitchell also said he didnt expect his first-choice scrum to lose inches, which contributed to Ireland finding the front 50 very easy.
In any event, Ireland had much more strength, even though they were without 11 British and Irish Lions, currently touring New Zealand. For one thing they had Keith Earls, the Munster wing who toured South Africa with the 2009 Lions. Whatever the New Jersey equivalent of the screaming ab-dabs might be, the Americans got them when Earls was carrying the ball. His team-mates noticed and he carried it often: on his wing, off it, on the end of kicks into space.
Two minutes in his marker, Martin Iosefo, rushed up, allowing space for Tiernan OHalloran to break a tackle and put Earls clear for a 35m run to the line. Then, when Carbery made a half-gap of his own, Earls was straight through it to send a long, flat-ish-cum-forward pass out for the other wing, Jacob Stockdale, to score. Carberry converted for 12-0 on 15 minutes. Three minutes late a missed MacGinty clearance saw OHalloran run the ball back, a tackler slip off and Kieran Marmion put Earls in at the corner with ease.
Earlsy usually wants to get the ball all the time, Schmidt said, but I think after the first 20 minutes he didnt want it anymore, hed run it enough.
The first US try produced a roar from a crowd above 22,000. The Newcastle Falcons lock Nick Civetta scored it, charging down a clearance from Carbery. MacGinty converted for 17-7. In prompt response, Carbery kicked a penalty to the corner and the Irish pack mauled the hooker Niall Scannell over from a throw to big Devin Toner. So go the pros.
Lamborn then made a half-break but couldnt complete the pass. From the scrum, which Ireland pressured to keep the tired No8 David Tameilau bound and busy, came the try of the game. Marmion scooted blind and released Earls once again, and though 70 metres later the full-back Ben Cima got him, and well, Earls popped a pass out of a tumble-dryer of arms and legs for Marmion to score. Carberry increased the lead to 29-7. So it stayed to the half.
The first try of the second period took only three minutes, No8 Jack Conan touching down from a five-metre scrum drive. Carberry converted. And then there was a second charge-down of the Irish No10, this time by the Cork-born flanker John Quill. Carbery, Schmidt said with a grin, will learn from the experience.
The US then had their best spell of the game, and the roar for what mightve been a third home try shook the stands for a few seconds or so. Alas, replacement prop Paddy Ryan Irish-born, employed in the Premiership with Newcastle threw forward a long pass after a fine break from the wing Mike Teo. Iosefos finish was in vain.
Ryan Matyas did get over on 54 minutes for the Eagles third, this time patient phase play opening a half-gap. Perhaps stung, a little, Ireland brought on the Munster wing Simon Zebo, a Lion in Australia four years ago. Although the US scrambling defense was good, another Earls break put the substitute lock James Ryan over and replacement scrum-half Luke McGrath also scored as legs tired. The final try came from a high kick to Stockdales wing, where the undersized Teo was predictably outjumped. Zebo collected the loose ball to score.
On a hot, sapping evening, both teams earned their applause. After five minutes of the game, though, the same fans offered standing ovation in honor of Robert Paylor, a lock from the University of California, Berkeley who suffered a catastrophic injury in the Varsity Cup final against Arkansas State last month. Paylor is now in rehab; a GoFundMe campaign aims to raise $1m to aid his recovery.
USA: B Cima; M Teo, R Matyas, M Brache (W Magie, 22-35; B Campbell, 65), M Iosefo (S Davies, 50); AJ MacGinty, N Augspurger (capt); B Tarr (J Taufetee, 40), P Malcolm (J Hilterbrand, 40), C Baumann (P Ryan, 46), N Brakeley, N Civetta (M Jensen, 46), J Quill, T Lamborn, D Tameilau (A Durutalo, 40).
Tries Civetta, Quill, Matyas. Cons MacGinty 2.
Ireland: T OHalloran; K Earls, G Ringrose, L Marshall (R Scannell, 40) J Stockdale; J Carbery (S Zebo, 50), K Marmion (L McGrath, 61); C Healy (D Kilcoyne, 50), N Scannell (D Heffernan, 50), J Ryan (A Porter, 50), Q Roux (J Ryan, 61), D Toner, R Ruddock (capt), J van der Flier, J Conan.
Tries Earls 2, Stockdale, Scannell, Marmion, Conan, James Ryan, McGrath, Zebo. Cons Carbery 3, R Scannel 2 Pens DG
Ref: Luke Pearce (England) Att: 22,370.