After the euphoria of last weekend, Ireland need to reset and focus on their last November test match fixture; a contest against USA who come to the Aviva Stadium unbeaten in November. Hawkeye Sidekick runs the rule over the USA challenge.
The Irish sports media by and large have overlooked the USA in the lead up to this test match. Given the magnitude of the 16-9 win over New Zealand, it has being understandable that the media have focused and basked in the post-game comments of Irish players and management.
USA come into this fixture in good confidence. Gary Gold and management have seen their charges deal with adversity with keynote injuries and absentees. AJ MacGinty for instance (Sale Sharks) is out of action for the rest of 2018 due to injury one of several withdrawals. MacGinty is a quality fly-half option and will be crucial to USA’s hopes next year at the RWC. Samu Manoa has only joined up with the squad for this test match.
The pregame comment on the USA is that the side have a 100% this calendar year. This is correct as USA have won marquee victories over Scotland, Argentina and Canada. USA have also won the Americas Rugby Championship this season and confirms that they are the kingpins in this continent.
While Ireland were easily trouncing Italy at Soldiers Field on November 3rd, USA took on the Maori All Blacks immediately after. If you have not seen the footage, then I would suggest that you have a look. The tackles were physical, abrasive and both sides gave as good as they got. The Maori All Blacks won the contest but USA refused to back down during the contest scoring a couple of tries to the delight of the home crowd in attendance.
The physical encounter at Soldiers Field has galvanized the USA Rugby team as they have secured some impressive keynote wins thereafter. A monumental 30-29 over Samoa in Spain was followed up upon by an emphatic 5-31 road trip over a outgunned Romania side in Bucharest last weekend.
The most recognizable player on the USA Rugby Union side at the weekend will be the ex-Toulon and now Northampton Saints forward Samu Manoa.
The back row player has physicality and abrasiveness in ball carrying, tackling and breakdown. A player who will take the fight to Ireland when introduced. His duel with Jack Conan when introduced should be a key match-up at the weekend.
Cameron Dolan has had an excellent November series. The Nottingham player has scored a couple of tries from the eight position in recent test matches and was prominent in the historic victory over Samoa. His ball carrying threat and pace could be an interesting subplot given the time and space by the Ireland defense. A player to watch for the USA Rugby team next year at the RWC.
The thirteen channel has seen Bryce Campbell prominent in all that has being good in USA attacking play. His two try haul against Romania last weekend saw his power and pace on the outside. The tries showing Campbell’s ability to finish off good attacking moves; skip passes out wide where Romania’s back field defensive was exposed. Campbell vs. McCloskey physical hits will be a highlight. His partnership with Lasike is one to watch for USA in the coming year leading up to the RWC 2019 tournament. Potential but ability from nine and ten to unleash these players is questionable for this test match.
USA Team News:
Eight UK based players feature for USA in this test match. There is a return home for Mullen at prop. The former Glenstal Abbey star packs down in the front row. Scully at fourteen is a surprise as his preferred position is probably full back but Hooley fills this position.
Solid lineup despite several key injuries and Gary Gold will look for a positive start from his charges to settle into the contest. Otherwise, it could be an arduous evening.
There are worries in the pack as evidence by the Maori All Blacks performance who dominated the maul exchanges. The attacking lines at times are at times predictable and one dimensional without MacGinty at the helm.
A performance where USA will hope to impress and stay competitive but with Ireland fringe players looking to play their way into RWC 2019 squad contention, there will be no sympathy from Ireland.
USA: W Hooley, B Scully, B Campbell, P Lasike, M Brache, W Magie, S Davies, T Lamositele, J Taufete’e , P Mullen, G Peterson, N Civetta, J Quill, H Germishuys, C Dolan.