(Sydney, Australia) 21 July 1999 -- Outpaced defensively, the USA's reserve team went down 57-8 to Emerging New South Wales Wednesday evening at North Sydney Oval.
The locals ran in nine tries, four from Super 12 center Marc Stcherbina, who repeatedly linked with former Wallaby flyhalf Manuel Edmonds to slice through the reservists' defense. Down 31-0 at the half, the US side continued to play hard in the second period and were rewarded with a try to center Juan Grobler on the full-time buzzer.
It was not the first time the USA reserves penetrated deep into New South Wales' territory. The first quarter saw the Americans camped inside the hosts 22-meter line, but unable to finish breaks by flyhalf Dave Stroble and flanker Dougald Gillies. Twice New South Wales gallingly relieved the pressure by running the ball from behind their own posts for length-of-the-field tries.
After an earlier second-half attacking foray, flyhalf David Niu--off the bench to replace an injured Dave Stroble--slotted a penalty to get the US on the board.
Head coach Jack Clark took little comfort from those few bright moments. "There were more lessons than positives in that game," he said, expressing disappointment in the team's lineouts and defensive pattern.
But he also acknowledged the need to expose US players to high-class representative rugby. "We know there are places in the world we can go and win by 50 points, but that's not a good Rugby World Cup buildup."
Number 8 Rob Lumkong marked his return from injury with a strong game from the base of a scrum that was sometimes less-than-steady. He promises to add depth for the Eagles at loose forward.
However, it was the pace of both the game and the New South Wales' outside backs that took its toll. Six of the hosts' tries came from the backs, who took full advantage of missed tackles, stretching the reservists' defense with wide ball at every opportunity and unleashing the pace of players such as Super 12 wing Matt Dowling. If the Emerging NSW match was a schooling for inexperienced Eagle players, three of whom were representing the US for the first time, Saturday's match against Queensland is being treated as a "mid-term exam" in this World Cup season. Clark indicated that 14 changes are likely for the Brisbane match, sticking with the plan to give every member of the squad a match on tour.
Final: Emerging New South Wales 57 United States 8 (halftime ENSW 31-0)
ENSW: Tries: Stcherbina (4), Cullimore, Reilly, Fava, Miller, Harris
Conv: Edmonds (6)
USA: Tries: Grobler
United States: Chris Morrow; Ben Trautwein, Juan Grobler, Toby Robson, Andre Blom; Dave Stroble (David Niu), Britt Howard; Joe Clayton, Kirk Khasigian, Bill Le Clerc, Luke Gross, Alec Parker, Shaun Paga, Dougald Gillies (captain), Rob Lumkong.
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