Team USA got out of Day One of the World Cup with the right record, 1-0, but a disappointment in the score differential, having beaten Georgia 26-19. The Eagles had 26 at the half, but were shut out by the Lelos in the second stanza.
Zack Test took the game's opening restart, kicked by Georgia. The Eagles worked the ball to the right touch line, set a ruck, came back to the other touch line, and Matt Hawkins brought the ball back into the middle of the field. Colin Hawley took a smart line off of the captain and raced in for the first try.
Shalom Suniula appeared to have extended the lead shortly after the next kickoff, but he stepped out of bounds prior to lunging over the line. Georgia took advantage of the break, bursting for a long-range try.
The Eagles took the next restart, and Hawkins found the ball on the perimeter. Georgia had defenders there, but the captain drew both of them in, leaving a hole for Test on a switch. Test went in for a try and Suniula converted. Recognizing the need to pile up points for point differential, Test urged Suniula to take the kick quickly and get the ball back in play.
Test won the ball back on the next restart and the Eagles worked the pattern, going from one touch line to the other. Nick Edwards found a half gap on the right side and carried a defender over for the USA’s third try, converted.
The Eagles won the next restart, too, and Folau Niua scored directly after possession was secured. This conversion was missed, making it 26-7 at halftime.
Georgia cut into that difference with hard running and offloads to start the second half. Shavleg Makharashvili’s try went unconverted, making it 26-12.
Niua made a break for the Eagles in an attempt to push the lead back out, but he was caught and isolated, resulting in a turnover. Not long after, the Mike Palefau, Brett Thompson and Carlin Isles supplied some fresh legs.
The Eagles were then awarded an attacking scrum with the chance to spin the ball wide to Isles for a potential score, but Suniula was unable to secure possession out of the scrum. Georgia went on the front foot, and a penalty later, scored to narrow the gap to just seven with the converted try.
The Eagles face 0-1 Canada next on Saturday. The Canadians fell 31-12 to New Zealand on Friday.
Tries: Test, Edwards, Niua, Hawley
Cons: Suniula (3)
Tries: Makharashvili, Kvirikashvili, Sharizade
Cons: Makharashvili, Jimsheladze