EAGLES V SEA EAGLES!

18 Nov 2016

Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column

EAGLES V SEA EAGLES!

A November to Remember on The Rugby Channel continues to provide thrilling oval action and you can see every last minute of it for less than a dollar per week by subscribing right now!

To get a feeling for just how much rugby is on offer here, click on the link to TRC Report #27 and watch last week’s highlights from the Fall Tours, the Anglo Welsh Cup, and the WPL Championships.

After you finish reading the previews for our upcoming fixtures, look at the reviews of a few of last week’s matches, pick the ones that intrigue you the most and use the VOD feature to view them in their entirety.

UNITED STATES V TONGA – Saturday Nov. 19 at 11:00 am ET

The Eagles’ last match of their 2016 Fall Tour will be LIVE on the Rugby Channel from San Sebastian, Spain.

To get their first win of the tour they’ll need to improve in one specific area against a team that they’ve only ever beaten once, way back in 1999.

The Eagles have lacked offensive firepower in their last two outings and some of that can be directly attributed to being dominated up front by both the Maori All Blacks and the Romanian Oaks. Coming out at least even against Tonga in the pack battle will go a long way toward opening up attacking opportunities on Saturday.

This will be the sixth consecutive year that the USA has met Tonga in a test match - in a variety of locations - but each of these meetings has ended in defeat.

A win in Spain would be a nice surprise from a team that looks as if they are having a hard time all getting on the same page.

The ‘Ikale Tahi (Sea Eagles) got their first win in 2016 last week against their Spanish hosts in Madrid. After close losses back in June to Fiji and Georgia, they also fell to Samoa, losing by 20 points.

The Tongan team is loaded with professionals plying their trade in the Guinness Pro12, English Premiership, French Top 14, Super Rugby, and Japan’s Top League.

With former Wallaby number 8 Toutai Kefu at the helm, Tonga will be looking to use the USA match as a stepping stone to their next fixture, a clash with Italy on November 26th. Doing the basics well against the Americans will go a long way towards building their confidence ahead of that challenge.

The Eagles can win this one but it’s going to take a disciplined, aggressive performance that focuses on execution and limiting mistakes.

HARLEQUINS V MAORI ALL BLACKS – Wed. Nov. 16 at 2:30 pm ET

The Rugby Channel’s first match this week is a Wednesday fixture that is definitely on the not to be missed list.

Harlequins are celebrating their 150th anniversary in 2016, a historic milestone for one of the founding members of the RFU.

A visit to The Stoop by a squad like the Maori All Blacks is a fitting way to celebrate their sesquicentennial.

Harlequins are currently in sixth position on the Premiership ladder, just a couple of points out of an eventual playoff spot. More importantly though, with many stars away on England international duty, the youngster dominated team that remains has won both their matches in the Anglo Welsh Cup and leads Pool 3.

This means that the Maori will face a side that, while somewhat inexperienced, have demonstrated enough cohesion and resolve to defeat Exeter and Ospreys in consecutive weeks.

The Maori All Blacks looked every bit the unstoppable squad in Chicago, scoring eight tries against the Eagles.

It was a significantly different story last Friday night in Limerick when they had to contend with the might of Munster and a packed house at Thomond Park.

The Munster forwards controlled the match, except for when the Maori backs were given too much space to run by wayward kicking. 

Being held in check is not acceptable for the Maori and every effort will be made on Wednesday to break free from any Harlequins attempts to reduce their opportunities to run rampant. Power and pace will be the name of the game for the visitors as they look to end their tour on a victorious note.  

ENGLAND V FIJI – Saturday Nov. 19 at 9:30 am ET

Eddie Jones believes he has his team on a path to greatness and it would be difficult to find many England fans who disagree.

A solid win over South Africa was yet another big win for Jones and his charges, running his personal victory streak to ten and England’s to eleven.

There will be a temptation to look past Fiji toward Argentina and Australia but Jones has been at this long enough to know how to select for a match like this and keep his players on their toes every time out.

He’ll bring in some new caps as well as offer returns to others as a means of maintaining freshness and focus. The world conquering team that Jones is trying to build is not going to be 15 or even 23, it will need tremendous depth and the ability to slot in guys who won’t be awed by the occasion when they do get the call.

Fiji was disappointing in their match against the Barbarians on Friday night in Belfast.

The rainy conditions certainly didn’t help their plan to play running rugby and the Barbos pack was stronger and more cohesive than the Fijians probably anticipated.

They’ll know going into Twickenham on Saturday that a win is unlikely, which might just relieve some of the pressure and allow them to perform closer to the capabilities of a squad ranked tenth in the world.

FRANCE V UNITED STATES – Tuesday Nov. 22 at 12:00 pm ET

This women’s Eagles match doesn’t take place until next week but you need to put it on your calendar to watch now.

This is a huge two-test series for the United States against the 2016 Six Nations champs. The last time they met was in the Super Series this past Summer in Utah when France pulled out a 19-13 victory in a hard-fought encounter.

The recent announcement of the pools for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland have added some zest to this matchup as these two sides could see themselves meeting in a knockout round fixture next year.

France are fourth in the world rankings but in their most recent outing on November 9th they fell 10 – 5 to reigning World Cup champs England at The Stoop.

WORLD RUGBY AWARDS

This star-studded annual event honors the top players, coaches, teams, referees and various other servants of the game. Great highlights and comments from the winners! 

ANGLO WELSH CUP HIGHLIGHTS - VOD

This is a great program to watch if you want to get caught up with the rest of the goings on in the Anglo Welsh Cup. It covers all eight matches from the second round of the competition with generous highlights packages and a few features and interviews as well.

The best part of the show takes a look at the Ospreys v Harlequins battle which was held at St. Helens, a venue the Ospreys haven’t played in for 11 years. Prop Adam Jones has an outstanding cameo, now playing for the visiting Harlequins after spending the bulk of his career with Ospreys.

ROMANIA 23 – 10 UNITED STATES - VOD

After a tour opening thumping by the Maori All Blacks in Chicago, the United States had a chance to move up in the world rankings when they faced off against Romania last Saturday night in Bucharest.

Unfortunately, things never quite clicked for the Eagles in the Romanian capital and the Oaks forwards were able to dictate the match through denial of ball, solid defense, and positional advantage.

Give this match a look though if you haven’t seen it yet because there are positive glimpses of the future contained within.

MUNSTER 27 – 14 MAORI ALL BLACKS – VOD

Another famous victory for the Men in Red over a renowned touring team. Munster had to gut this one out with power and poise as they were missing internationals on duty for Ireland.

Check out the crowd in this one throughout the match, they truly carried their team to the win.

ENGLAND 37 – 21 SOUTH AFRICA – VOD

South Africa are not at the top of their game right now but they are still a potential threat to anyone they play.

England met the threat, overcame it, and continued to grow as a unit.

If you missed this one and are curious about what type of team England is becoming, be sure to watch it and discern the clues on offer.

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