Rugby World Cup 2011
USA squeeze past Russia
Takudza Ngwenya (Gallo Images)
New Plymouth - The United States ground out an
abrasive 13-6 victory over Rugby World Cup debutants Russia here on Thursday
to get their campaign back on track.
The US team, which lost their
opener 22-10 to Ireland, enjoyed large periods of advantage in terms of
territory and possession but could not fully convert them into points
in the face of a doughty Russian defence.
Mike Petri scored the
only try of the game, with US fullback Chris Wyles adding a conversion
and two penalties in tricky kicking conditions before the Americans held
off a late fight-back.
"It's an awesome feeling - I'm proud of the boys for sticking there," said USA captain Todd Clever.
made it tough on ourselves but the crowd helped us get through that
one. I was very nervous, they're a tough team and they're improving and
they're just getting better and better."
Russia struggled both at
the set piece, with the scrum wilting under pressure at times and the
lineout malfunctioning, and also at the breakdown where US captain Todd
Clever, fellow flanker Louis Stanfill and prop Mike MacDonald were
But it was the debutants who got off to the better
start when a charged-down clearance kick saw Sergey Popov and Andrey
Garbuzov go close before the US infringed at a ruck.
Kushnarev stepped up to kick the third-minute penalty for Russia's
first ever World Cup points, to roars of delight from a packed house at
Kushnarev failed with a second ambitious effort
from 46 metres in swirling wind shortly after, but Wyles equalled the
scores with an 11th minute penalty for a blatant offside in midfield.
Momentum then swung the US team's way.
Samoa-born flyhalf Roland Suniula broke the line, passed back on his
inside to centre brother Andrew who offloaded to Petri, who fended off
fullback Igor Klyuchnikov to go in under the posts for a try Wyles
Wyles missed a second penalty but USA suddenly looked
the dominant side as the Suniula duo and Clever began to punch holes in
the Russian midfield.
When the Russian scrum wilted and collapsed
in their own 22m area, the US kicked for touch but could not get over
the line despite a sustained period of pressure.
Unable to clear
their lines and with a scrum under the cosh, Russia defended valiantly
and were again let off the hook as Wyles badly skewed a third penalty
attempt on the half-hour mark to make it 10-3 at half-time.
missed a second penalty early in the second half after
Northampton-bound winger Vasily Artemyev showed his capability of
breaking down defences with some bullocking runs.
USA came racing
back and Andrew Suniula almost crossed for a memorable try,
side-stepping his way past a number of defenders but just hauled down
short of the line.
Wyles then missed a third kickable penalty and a
snap drop-goal, but eventually notched his second successful penalty in
the 64th minute to stretch the lead to 13-3.
Rachkov cut the deficit with a second Russian penalty with three minutes
to go as they threatened a late revival. But they were unable to make
the pressure count and now move on to a tough game against Italy on
The USA take on Australia in Wellington on Friday.Teams:
15 Igor Klyuchnikov, 14 Vladimir Ostroushko, 13 Konstantin Rachkov, 12 Alexey Makovetskiy, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Yury Kushnarev, 9 Alexander Shakirov, 8 Vyacheslav Grachev, 7 Artem Fatakhov, 6 Andrey Garbuzov, 5 Denis Antonov, 4 Alexander Voytov, 3 Ivan Prishchepenko, 2 Vladislav Korshunov (captain), 1 Sergey Popov
Substitutes: 16 Valery Tsnobiladze, 17 Alexander Khrokin, 18 Vladmimir Botvinnikov, 19 Adam Byrnes, 20 Victor Gresev, 21 Alexander Yanyushkin, 22 Andrey Kuzin
15 Chris Wyles, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Paul Emerick, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 James Paterson, 10 Roland Suniula, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Nic Johnson, 7 Todd Clever (captain), 6 Louis Stanfill, 5 Hayden Smith, 4 John van der Giessen, 3 Matekitonga Moeakiola, 2 Chris Biller, 1 Mike MacDonald
Substitutes: 16 Phil Thiel, 17 Shawn Pittman, 18 Scott LaValla, 19 Pat Danahy, 20 Tim Usasz, 21 Nese Malifa, 22 Blaine Scully