(Limerick, Ireland) 13 October 1999 -- Scrumhalf Kevin Dalzell steps in for the injured Dan Lyle to captain the United States against Australia in both teams' final Rugby World Cup pool match tomorrow at Limerick's Thomond Park.
The flanker's absence, his first in nine US test matches this season, is the most significant change in the Eagle lineup. Elsewhere, Joe Clayton replaces Ray Lehner in the front row, with George Sucher moving over to tighthead. The rest of the team is unchanged from Saturday's 27-25 loss to Romania, one of the tournament's best games so far.
Lyle sustained a moderate AC shoulder separation in scoring against the Romanians, and couldn't recover in the short four-day period between the two matches. Teammate Dalzell took over the captaincy after his 30th-minute departure.
In the backline, Dalzell partners with flyhalf David Niu, and Mark Scharrenberg and Juan Grobler combine in the centers. Romanian try-scorer Brian Hightower and Vaea Anitoni are the wings, and Kurt Shuman is the fullback. The latter's 77th-minute score, his first test try for the USA, nearly earned the Eagles a draw.
In the forwards, Clayton starts for the second time this season, joining Sucher and veteran Tom Billups in the front row. Workhorse Luke Gross and Alec Parker pair at lock, and Dave Hodges, Fifita Mo'unga, and Rob Lumkong form the backrow.
The Eagles enter Thursday's match as heavy underdogs against the tournament co-favorites. Nonetheless, Thomond Park is long-since sold out, hosting its first international match in 100 years.
United States: Kurt Shuman; Vaea Anitoni, Juan Grobler, Mark Scharrenberg, Brian Hightower; David Niu, Kevin Dalzell (captain); Joe Clayton, Tom Billups, George Sucher, Luke Gross, Alec Parker, Dave Hodges, Fifita Mo'unga, Rob Lumkong. Reserves: Tomasi Takau, Alatini Saulala, Jesse Coulson, Shaun Paga, Eric Reed, Marc L'Huillier, Kirk Khasigian.
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