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Tuesday, 07 June 2011 17:37    PDF Print Write e-mail
O'Sullivan Hoping for Better Against Tonga
National Teams - USA Men

Colin Hawley is one of only two starts against the Saxons to return against Tonga. Ian Muir photoYou ever start a board game, make a lousy dice throw on the first roll and say: “that was just for practice” ?

Would that we could do that a lot in life. Perhaps, though, it would be a good idea for the USA Men’s National Team to call for a do-over. They got hammered by the England Saxons on Saturday. It was not really even close. Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan was trying out several players and combinations, and very little clicked at all.

“Despite the disappointing score line against the Saxons we did find out a lot about the players we needed to assess,” said O’Sullivan. “We also got an opportunity to see players in different positions and combinations.”

The assessment, if you look at the side set to play Tonga on Wednesday, wasn’t too pretty. Only Colin Hawley and Scott LaValla return from Saturday’s squad as O’Sullivan makes 13 changes.

“We have made 13 changes for the Tonga game with more experience and familiar combinations throughout the team,” O’Sullivan told RUGBYMag.com. “With Chris Wyles unavailable and Mike Palefau having returned home for domestic reasons, we are also looking at Roland Suniula as a fullback option.  As a ranking test it is a game we have targeted to try and win. But it will be a tough test as Tonga, like ourselves, are using Churchill Cup as part of their preparation for Rugby World Cup.”

Yes, that’s right. If anyone thinks it’s going to be easier, because it will be easi-er, they are mistaken. Tonga, which defeated the USA 25-15 in the 2007 World Cup, are no pushovers and will battle relentlessly at the breakdown and not give an inch in any physical confrontation. They also have breakaway speed.

The Eagles will have to be careful, and smart, and can’t treat this game as a way to just exorcize what was a nightmare match on Saturday.

O’Sullivan has tried to be philosophical.

“We are obviously unhappy with the Saxons result,” O’Sullivan said. “We knew we were taking a risk with the team we selected and hoped we would be a lot more competitive. But we made a lot of errors and paid a heavy price on the scoreboard. We needed to see some players in a high pressure situation and also rest players for the ranking test against Tonga, just four days after the Saxons game. That was logic behind the team selection for the first game.”

The result doesn’t bode well for the USA’s depth, but the search continues. As the coach said, he will by trying Roland Suniula at fullback, hoping still to find depth at that position. The front row remains a work in progress (and, by extension, the scrum), but the interior backline, if it performs well Wednesday, could be settling in.

The USA performance had its positives. The first five minutes and the final five, when the Eagles put some good continuity together through the forwards, and produced a Tai Enosa penalty and a well-deserved try for Scott LaValla, were small hooks to hang their hats on.

And even more open play using the forwards produced some positive play. But the backs never clicked, and passes often didn’t find their mark at all, and the Saxons tested the outside defense early, found it wanting, and kept going back to the trough.

This week, whether the players involved are coming off the Saxons drubbing or just getting started this season, they have to retain the lessons learned in that game.

“The important message we stressed to the players after last Saturday is the mistakes we made were uncharacteristic and very fixable,” O’Sullivan said. “We turned over a lot of ball and frequently abandoned our defensive system. Against Tonga it is important we return to the standards we normally adhere to in test games.”

USA lineup to face Tonga:
15. R.Suniula
14. C. Hawley
13. P.Emerick
12. A.Suniula
11. K.Swiryn
10. N.Malifa
9. T.Usasz
1. M. Moeakiola
2. C. Biller
3. S. Pittman
4. L. Stanfill
5. S. Lavalla
6. I. Basauri
7. T.Clever (C)
8. N. Johnson

Replacements:
16. P.Thiel
17. E.Fry
18. J.Van Der Giessen
19. P.Danahy
20. M.Petri
21. T.Enosa
22. T.Hall

 
Written by Pat Clifton    Tuesday, 07 June 2011 13:08    PDF Print Write e-mail
PHOTOS: Men's DI Final Four
MultiMedia - Galleries

All photos by Pat Clifton and Cody Secker






















 
Written by Alex Goff    Monday, 06 June 2011 18:50    PDF Print Write e-mail
RUGBYMag CRC MVP and All-Tournament Team
Sevens - Collegiate Sevens
Dartmouth winners
All-tournament player Don Pati. Marvin Dangerfield photo
Nate Ebner's Ohio State struggled, but he is still an outstanding talent. Marvin Dangerfield photo

Chris and Nick. It seems there is no one without the other. The twins who helped engineer Dartmouth’s run to a CRC title are, of course, alike in many ways (but not completely). They are, however, sufficiently indistinguishable as to make it impossible for us to say one is better.

Actually we asked them which one is the better play … they just laughed. So to our CRC co-MVPs, Chris and Nick Downer, congratulations, and also to our All-CRC team.

“We’ve played every sport together for so long that we know each other’s tendencies,” explained Chris. “Obviously I can’t read what he’s thinking on the field but I know generally what he’s going to do and where he’s going to go, and he sets me up for a lot of my tries.”

“With only seven players on the field, it makes it a lot easier when you have a twin brother on the field wi9th you,” added Nick. “I know where he’s going to be in support and stuff, so it’s a pleasure playing with him and I think we make each other better on the field.”

The Downers connected on a crucial first-half score that, in retrospect, put the game away. Nick make the first surge and drawing the defenders before passing to Chris for the coup de grace. They finish each other’s breaks … and sentences.

“It was unbelievable,” said Nick. “To get a chance to be on this stage, on NBC, and in this lovely stadium –“

“And to beat Army for the first time in ten years or so, means a lot to all of us –“

“And for a national championship too, it’s icing on the cake.”

For our All-CRC team, we picked players who made an impact, but also players who track to have an impact at a higher level. Some good teams had few  representatives, not because their players were bad, but because they just put together a good team game and used their resources wisely.

Some teams with poor records have representatives, also. Those players simply demonstrated great ability, and, we expect, will be even better on a stronger outfit.

Here, then, is our RUGBYMag.com All-CRC Men’s Team:
(*=player can play either forward or back)

CO-MVPs: Chris Downer, Nick Downer (both backs)

Other Backs:
Will Holder Army
Dave Geib Army
Don Pati Utah *
Ben Leatigaga Army *
Tim Stanfill*
Peter Tiberio
Tonata Lauti

Forwards
Nate Ebner*
Nate Brakeley
Tanner Scott*
Blaine Scully*
Seamus Siefring


Comments on the picks:
Nick Downer. Classic playmaker. Very unselfish. Knows what he’s going to do, including when tackled (which is a rarity).

Chris Downer. Shifty runner with pace … and a finisher.

Will Holder. Long legged, smooth-striding back with all kinds of skills. Good passer.

Dave Geib. The unsung hero of the Army effort. Played outstanding defense and was excellent in support.

Don Pati. Can create space on his own, and has the acceleration and confidence to exploit it. Not tall, but enormously powerful. Could be a hooker in 7s.

Ben Leatigaga. Improved his 7s play immensely and does a good job of taking gaps when they are there, and making the ball available when they are not.

Tim Stanfill. Speedy and daring player – a trait not unuseful in this game.

Peter Tiberio. Saturday was brilliant. Blink and he’s somewhere else.

Tonata Lauti. Wild, sidestepping running style that can make defenses look bad. A little more time and discipline, and a few more sandwiches, and he will be that much better.

Nate Ebner. Powerful athlete with good passing skills and vision. Took too much on his shoulders for Ohio State, but with his ability it’s hard to blame him.

Nate Brakeley. Very big, rangy forward who covers ground and packs a punch (not literally) when he hits. Was penalized for not wrapping one time when really he had powered into his foe so aggressively the guy just bounced out of his grasp.

Tanner Scott. Not as tall or big as Brakeley, he being speed and a huge upside.

Blaine Scully. Excellent in almost all aspects. Has the speed to play in the backs, of course, and the power to be a forward.

Seamus Siefring. Completely uncompromising player who cleared out and played defense with utter unselfishness.







 
Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Monday, 06 June 2011 23:36    PDF Print Write e-mail
USA, Tonga Name 15s
National Teams - USA Men

Scott LaValla gets a second start, something only he and Colin Hawley acheive. Ian Muir photoTonga Head Coach Isitolo Maka has revealed the starting 15 who will make Tonga's debut into the Churchill Cup on Wednesday evening at Esher Rugby.

Kisi Pulu, of Top 14 side Perpignan, will start at tighthead prop and will captain the side against USA, which kicks off 12:30 Eastern, 9:30 Pacific.

Meanwhile the USA, which lost 87-8 to the England Saxons on Saturday, has retained only wing Colin Hawley and try-scoring second row Scott Lavalla in his squad to face Tonga, and has changed 13 players in the starting lineup.

Mate Moeakiola is now in the assembly after not being named earlier. Todd Clever captains the side, while Roland Suniula gets an opportunity to play fullback.

Tonga M.Malupo; V.Helu, S.Hufanga, E. Siua, V. Iongi; K. Mortath, S. Havea; T. Lea’Aetoa, I. Ma’Asi, K. Pulu, S.Timani, E.Kauhenga, P.Mapakaitolo, P.Koloamatangi, V.Ma’Afu. Rep: A.Halangahu, O.Fainga’Anuku, J.Afu, P.Kaho, D.Mrath, E.Paea, S.Taumoepeau.

USA: R.Suniula, C. Hawley, P.Emerick, A.Suniula, K.Swiryn; N.Malifa, T.Usasz; M. Moeakiola, C. Biller, S. Pittman, L. Stanfill, S. Lavalla, I. Basauri, T.Clever (C), N. Johnson. Rep: P.Thiel, E.Fry, J.Van Der Giessen, P.Danahy, M.Petri, T.Enosa, T.Hall

 
Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Monday, 06 June 2011 18:46    PDF Print Write e-mail
Final CRC Box Scores and Standings
Sevens - Collegiate Sevens

USA 7s Men’s CRC Sunday Box Scores and Final Standings:

Cup QFs
Utah  21                                               California  5
Tries      Pati 2, Lauti                               McTurk
Convs    Miller 3                                

Dartmouth  12                                   Penn State  7
Tries      Scott, C Downer                    Erickson              
Convs    N Downer                              Baker   

Army  19                                            Texas  7
Tries      Leatigaga, Holder, Geib                 1             
Convs    Geib, Holder                            Mullen 

Central Washington  5                    Arizona  0
Tries      Stanfill 

Challenger QFs
LSU  12                                                  Boston College  0
Tries      Cadella, Macomber        
Convs    Bordes                                 

North Carolina  19                            Temple  10
Tries      Briffitt 2, MacLennan              Rasmusson, Jones            
Convs    MacLennan 2                                    

Notre Dame  28                                                Ohio State  7
Tries      Severyn, O'Connor, Macomber, Ritt           Ebner   
Convs    Peterson, O'Connor 2, Ritt                           Ebner   

Navy  19                                               Oklahoma  0
Tries      Siefring, Bova, Rohrs                                     
Convs    Scovill 2                                               


Cup Semis
Army 12                                               Utah  7
Tries      Vaha'i, Leatigaga                       Loser    
Convs    Geib                                        Miller   

Dartmouth  24                                   Central Washington  12
Tries      C Downer 2, Scott 2              Stanfill, Blair      
Convs    N Downer 2                          Lee        


Challenger Semis
LSU  24                                                  UNC  7
Tries      Allongi 2, Bordes, Levasseur          1             
Convs    Allongi 2                                     MacLennon       

Notre Dame 12                                 Navy  10
Tries      Plantz, Mitchell                       Bova, Siefring   
Convs    O'Connor                                            


Challenger Final
LSU  24                                                  Notre Dame  0
Tries      Allongi, Cadella, de Leaumont, Bordes                                  
Convs    Johns 2                                


3rd/4th
Utah      12                                           Central Washington  10
Tries      Taylor, Pati                                Bates    
Convs    Miller                                         Nichols


Cup Final
Dartmouth          32          
Tries: C. Downer 2, Brakeley, Jarvis, Lehmann, Abdul-Shakoor
Convs: N. Downer          

Army     10
Tries: Holder, Geib



1st Dartmouth
2nd Army
3rd Utah
4th Central Washington
5th (Tied) Cal, Penn State, Texas, Arizona
9th LSU
10th Notre Dame
11th (Tied) Navy, North Carolina
13th (Tied) Ohio State, Temple, Boston College, Oklahoma



 


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