USA dig deep to qualify for 2015 Rugby World Cup
March 29, 2014
Mission accomplished - USA celebrate qualifying for the 2015 Rugby World Cup © Twitter
USA came from behind after a lacklustre first half-hour to beat Uruguay 32-17 in Atlanta and book their place in England for next year's Rugby World Cup.
In a match where yellow cards were to the fore, Joaquin Prada gave Uruguay the lead with a 23rd-minute try but the USA gradually clawed their way back and twice appeared to have scored only for the TMO to rule otherwise. Indiscipline cost the USA as Felipe Berchesi slotted two penalties to give the visitors a 13-3 lead at the break.
USA came out flying after the break and seven minutes in Eric Fry capitalised on an error to bring them back into the game. With the first-leg last week drawn, this was a winner-takes-all affair and as time went on Uruguay began to wilt.
They held out until the hour mark and then three tries in nine minutes ended their dreams. The key score came in the 61st minute when Mike Petri took a quick penalty 30 metres out and broke through a surprised defence to put the USA ahead for the first time. Shalom Suniula went over six minutes later and three minutes after that Andrew, his brother, put the game out of reach.
For the last ten minutes Uruguay were camped in their own half and unable to mount any serious challenge as the crowd started celebrating.
The USA now can plan ahead for their group matches against Scotland, South Africa and Samoa. "We're not backing down from anyone," said coach Mike Tolkin. "Our goal is to get out of the pool."
For Uruguay the dream is not quite over as they still have a chance to qualify through the repechage where they will face the second-place team from Asia.
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