3 Things – USA v Canada: RAN 1 Playoff Series 2021

34-21. Canada.

The statement was made.

While no one necessarily expected a blowout, most observers expected an Eagles victory. While the Canadians deserve some credit, this was more of a US loss than a Canadian win.

Match Roster Was… Odd

If you listed the 23 for this game simply as a pool of players, it was be a decent group with some impressive upside. As a game day roster, it was an unusual selection. Take the following:

  • 2. Dylan Fawsitt
  • 16. Kapeli Pifeleti
  • 18. Joe Taufete’e

3 hookers? With a 5-3 bench? Sacrificing a second true prop was a weird move.

Then, consider Nate Augspurger. Listed as a scrumhalf/wing, Augspurger would be expected to likely relieve Ruben de Haas in the final quarter. Instead, he was swapped in for Mika Kruse in the first half. Tavite Lopeti being selected over Ryan Matyas, who could cover center and wing, was perplexing. Such a selection would allowed a pure 9 to take the 21 jersey, and Michael Baska earned that spot this summer. MacGinty on the bench due to travel consequences made sense, but that was it. Gary Gold will need a more traditional back line bench of a replacement 9, replacement 10/15, and replacement center/wing if this team is really meant to compete. The strange part? That’s already available, yet he avoided it.

Cam Dolan is the Eagle’s Most Important Player

AJ MacGinty is a premier flyhalf that would contend to start on almost any national side. de Haas is a plus 9, and Baska is a more than serviceable replacement. However, this team rises and falls with Cam Dolan.

Dolan’s 38th minute removal due to HIA and inability to return was the turning point in this match. Until that point, the Eagles had one move: acquire the ball, kick to touch, win the line out, then immediately maul the Canadian pack. It was all drawn directly from Gary Gold’s South African DNA. It took less than two minutes for the US to score a penalty try using that same tactic. But after Cam Dolan was pulled, the line out became a lost endeavor. The team was without a real line out caller, and it looked like a pick up game where everyone is trying to do their own thing. Dolan’s health will be the biggest factor in the Eagle’s attempt to come out of this series with a win.

Luke Carty is a Revelation

With all the chaos of the last three tests, its worth noting the positives. Luke Carty continues to be a steal for the States. The Giltinis flyhalf/center/fullback has been shuffled around the LA back line to accommodate their surplus talent. Even without regular time at a single position, he stepped up notably at 10 in the July tests. Stepping back to 15 for this match, he managed multiple successful 50-22s. While the Eagles line out was unable to capitalize on either of them, that kind of territorial acquisition through the air is special. At just 23 years old and likely to succeed Matt Giteau in LA, Carty could develop into something truly special over the next few years.

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