Basic Errors Deny USA Rugby a Chance Against Samoa

An error strewn game ultimately ended with Samoa in the ascendency completing another victory over the USA Eagles, 25-16. It was a game that never really got going and was decided by the consistency of Samoa’s skill set and the complete unreliability of the USA’s. Basic errors were alarmingly too frequent, which many neutrals may scoff at as USA being a non-traditional rugby nation but realistically at this level the simple things should be paramount.

Basic Errors Deny USA Rugby a Chance Against Samoa

Unforced errors will be the downfall of any rugby side and the USA were repeatedly guilty of this. Handling errors, kicking accuracy and choice as well as decision making. The moments of spark and ingenuity that led to the USA’s tries masked over what was a fairly ineffectual game from the Eagles backs. Time and time again they surrendered possession to Samoa and invited what are an extremely physical side to continue running at them. Which they gleefully did and exposed weaknesses in the Eagles defensive line.

Any glimmer of hope that Eagles supporters may have had despite the sloppy way in which their side were playing was extinguished by a terrible penalty count. 14 penalties were given away by the USA compared to Samoa’s 7. Simply put you cannot hope to compete at a Rugby World Cup with that level of indiscipline. Most worryingly is that three of those penalties were given away when in position of the ball and beginning to build phases. Going off your feet at the ruck when your team are in possession of the ball is illegal. As players, coaches and fans we know that but it seems to be the interpretation of this offence is dramatically different not just from individual referees but remarkably different for the same referee within minutes of decisions. This in my view is becoming the scourge of games as scrums often were. Referees are randomly making decisions. To penalise the USA 3 times for the offence when in all honesty there is an attacking player off their feet at every ruck. Samoa repeatedly did it, as did the USA, as did England, as did virtually every side so far. Granted players should learn to stay on their feet but referees need to improve their consistency.

The high penalty count meant the USA could only hope to stay in the game through individual skill and flair that was all too often snuffed out by a strong Samoan defence. The scrum and the lineout did not function to a standard that the Eagle’s pack will be happy with. Numerous lineouts were not thrown straight. Again a case of basic skills denying the USA opportunities to score. Once field position and territory have been established the USA have to punish opponents by getting on the scoreboard.

Well that was all doom and gloom wasn’t it? Fear not though Eagles fans, the performance against Samoa was not up to standard but with adjustments and a focus on back to basics rugby there is no reason Scotland should be taking the USA lightly. The danger running of Samu Manoa, the skill set and command of AJ MacGinty and the finishing ability of Takudza Ngwenya and Chris Wyles is still enough to stir hope in the hearts of supporters. If the USA can cut out the simple mistakes, improve their discipline and tidy up the set piece then hope springs eternal for a Japanese esque historic victory in Leeds against Scotland.

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