Going into the November tours, it’s good to see USA players getting plenty of time on the field for their pro teams.
Andrew Suniula got his first run-on for Wasps, albeit the A side. Wasps lost to Harlequins A this week, but for USA fans, the important news was Suniula’s start at #12.
Also in action was Scott LaValla, now starting virtually every game for Stade Francais (they lost also), and Chris Wyles, always a starter now for Saracens (they lost also). Samu Manoa was almost personally responsible for making Wyles’s Saturday a sad one, with a brilliant display for Northampton.
This quote from Steve James, writer for the Daily Telegraph tells you all you need to know about how observers feel about the imposing USA lock/flanker:
“The Saints now possess a really potent off-loading game thanks to their terrifying posse of ball carriers, and one of them, lock Samu Manoa, was so obviously man of the match that the adjudicator could have retired to the bar at half-time. He was that good. He is supreme at the restarts and carries with both power and finesse. He is simply at the heart of everything Northampton do.”
Blaine Scully got another start for Leicester in their 22-12 loss to Wasps, and while he did well on defense, he also gave away a couple of key penalties - penalties of over-eagerness, but still penalties.
Also starting in one of the top leagues was Taku Ngwenya, recently not selected for the USA. Ngwenya has not seen much of the tryline, but neither has anyone else on his team. Biarritz lost 39-0 to Castres and are in last place in the French Top 14, and in fact could win two games and see the #13 team lose two, and still would be in last. That’s how bleak things are in Biarritz.
Stade Francais, who briefly occupied 1st in the Top 14, are now 7th, but in being 7th they are only a game out of 1st in a really tight competition.
Elsewhere in overseas action, Todd Clever came on as a sub for NTT as they lost to Kobe Steel. It would be worth it for NTT to evaluable a sort of “plus-minus” measurement with Clever. NTT closed the gap on Sunday when Clever entered the field, and his earlier foray as a sub saw him lead a comeback that culminated in the USA captain scoring the winning try and being named Man of the Match.
He subbed in again a week later (score was 14-12, and the game ended 21-15), and then started twice, both wins for NTT.
So when Clever starts, NTT is 2-0. When he subs on, they are 2-1. When he doesn’t p[lay, they are 0-2. NTT missed making the top four in their group (and thus qualifying for the higher tier of the next stage of the Japan Top League) by one victory.
In lower divisions and elsewhere, Nick Civetta continues to start regularly for Lazio in Italy. Seta Tuilevuka continues getting time with Beziers, while Roland Suniula continues to get time with Vienne. Inaki Basauri has not played for some time for Tarbes as he recovers from an injury, but he is healthy now and could well play this coming weekend.
In England, Eric Fry is alternating starting and being on the bench for London Scottish, while Robbie Shaw is usually the sub scrumhalf for Esher.