Sun 10 Jul 2022 | 11:03

Gold's USA a step closer to World Cup 2023

Gold's USA a step closer to World Cup 2023
Sun 10 Jul 2022 | 11:03
Gold's USA a step closer to World Cup 2023
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REPORT: The United States held off Chile 22-21 on Saturday in a roller-coaster first leg of their 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifying tie.

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Both teams made a wealth of errors amid driving rain that reduced the pitch to mud at Estadio Santa Laura, where the second half also saw the lights fail, bringing the game to a halt for about 10 minutes in the second half.

In the end, the more experienced and disciplined United States triumphed with tries from Christian Dyer, Joe Taufete’e and Kapeli Pifelty – with veteran captain AJ MacGinty contributing two conversions and a penalty goal.

“It was as gritty a performance as one could expect out there,” US coach Gary Gold said.

“Conditions were visibly on another level, but I am unbelievably pleased with the effort our guys put out there.

“This squad was resilient in the tough situations and adapted well. Through the elements and delays we did what we set out to do in Santiago, come away with a win on the road. It was a little closer than we would have hoped in the end.”

Chile are trying to reach the Rugby World Cup for the first time, while the United States have played in all but one — missing South Africa in 1995.

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“It was a very tough match. The field and the conditions made it more complicated,” Chile captain Martin Sigren said.

“But we are relaxed – it’s a 160-minute match,” he added of their chance to turn the tables in the second leg, which the United States hosts next Saturday in suburban Denver.

The winner on aggregate over the two legs will secure a spot in Pool D at the World Cup alongside England, Argentina, Japan and Samoa.

The loser can still make it to France 2023 via the Final Qualification Tournament later this year.

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“At this stage, the goal is clear – get a win on home soil,” Gold said.

Late power outage

With Chile struggling more to maintain order in the adverse conditions, the United States seized control early as Dyer drove over the line for a try in the corner that was converted by MacGinty for a 7-0 lead in the fifth minute.

Los Condores kept the pressure on with a pair of penalties from Santiago Videla to slice the lead to 7-6, where it stood at halftime.

But after Videla received a yellow card for an intentional knock-on, Taufete’e scored a try off the United States’ driving maul to make it 12-6 in the 44th minute.

Chile responded in the 51st with an impressive try from Rodrigo Fernandez, who got loose and shed eight opponents as he sprinted for a try that sliced the deficit to 12-11.

Minutes later, Videla booted Chile ahead for the first time in the contest with his third penalty.

The United States’ bid to regain the lead was temporarily stymied when the power failed, plunging the field into darkness for about 10 minutes.

But when play resumed, a MacGinty penalty restored their lead and Pifelti’s 73rd-minute try, converted by MacGinty pushed the Eagles’ advantage to 22-14.

Videla would add another try – and convert it – in the 78th to narrow the margin and boost Chile’s aggregate chances.

PV: 30
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