USA fight back to take upper hand
March 23, 2014
The USA fought back to draw with Uruguay in Montevideo in in the first leg of their Americas play-off, and with the second leg in Atlanta next weekend are now in a strong position to qualify for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The USA, who include a number of European-based players, were the favourites to win but they found themselves behind after conceding a string of penalties which Felipe Berchesi punished. A converted try from the centre Joaquin Prada put Uruguay 19-6 up but the USA scored in the dying second of the half when prop Phil Thiel barged over to reduce the deficit at the break to seven points.
In the second half the USA found more rhythm and tries from Northampton forward Samu Manoa and Saracens winger Chris Wyles put them into a healthy lead. But seven minutes from time replacement prop Nick Wallace was sin-binned with and Uruguay pressure paid off when scrum-half Agustin Ormachea went over but Berchesi missed the conversion that would have given them a shock win.
"We are very happy about the match we played," said Berchesi. "We were not the favourites and most people were expecting us to lose easily. The qualifier is still open and I hope we can have a great match away but we need to make no mistakes."
The winner over the two games will go into into World Cup Pool B with South Africa, Samoa, Scotland and an Asian qualifier, likely to be Japan. The loser goes into a cross-continent repechage.
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