The U.S. men’s national rugby team flexed some serious muscle at Dell Diamond Saturday night.
Samba dancers were on hand practicing for Carnival Brasileiro, but it was the United States doing all the celebrating in a 51-3 rout of Brazil in the second round of the American Rugby Championships.
“I was pleased with the pressure we put on, how we kept the ball alive and delivered it to the go-to areas,” said John Mitchell, a New Zealand native and former All Blacks coach in his second year guiding the Americans. “We showed a lot of variety in our attack.”
It was the eighth largest margin of victory in a U.S. international match.
A crowd of 6,091 turned out, down from the 7,145 that attended Canada-USA in 2016, the first rugby match at the Triple-A baseball park. Nonetheless, the players were impressed.
“It was a good atmosphere,” said flanker Tony Lamborn, who scored two tries in a second-half blitz. “You love looking out from the field and seeing nearly a packed house. I thought the crowd brought a lot of energy to the night.”
Most of the match was played on the Brazil side of the pitch. The Eagles made quicker passes, had better lateral movement and generally were a few steps ahead of the Brazilians.
The Eagles, ranked 17th in the world, jumped ahead with barely three minutes gone as a lineout steal set up Bryce Campbell to feed wing Spike Davis for a try in the right corner. Davis, a former SMU defensive lineman, was making his first international start.
“What a feeling to score right off the bat in my starting debut,” said Davis, who played in four bowl games for the Mustangs from 2009-12.
The Eagles led 13-0 at halftime and blew it wide open with six tries in the second half, even as the reserves came on.
First, there was a try from Cam Dolan, who plays professionally in Wales. Then a series of beautiful passes resulted in Lamborn’s second try of the night and Ben Cima’s conversion for a 30-3 lead.
Another Eagles fast break saw Nate Augspurger offload to fullback Mike Te’o to make it 37-3, before Campbell picked off a Brazil pass at midfield and zoomed all the way home. Peter Tiberio delivered the nightcap with his first career try for the Eagles.
The Eagles, who beat Uruguay 29-23 in San Antonio last week, are 2-0 in the six-nation tournament that serves as a tuneup to World Cup qualifying this summer. Next weekend they visit British Columbia to play Canada.
They couldn’t have had a better time in their Round Rock stop.
“For me, it was like a home game,” said Todd Clever, a long-time Eagles captain who now is part of the Austin Huns ownership group.
He came off the bench to earn his 71st international cap, stopping Brazil from scoring once with some rugged tackling.
“It’s a different role for me, but I’ll do whatever Mitch(ell) asks,” Clever said. “We started a young team. I’m pleased with how we looked and how the community turned out.”
Lamborn also liked what he saw.
“There was some extra energy,” he said. “A lot of new guys eager to make an impression. We got wide, and it was go, go, go.”
The New Zealand native enjoyed his two weeks in the area.
“I’m a Kiwi, we’re a small country, and I always heard how large Texas was, so it was a dream come true to experience it,” Lamborn said. “I liked Austin and San Antonio. We saw signs that rugby is growing here. And we sampled the barbecue ribs. I’d come back.”
For more photos from the USA-Brazil rugby match, go to statesman.com