October 23, 2021
(Reuters) – New Zealand got back to their winning ways as they romped to a 104-14 victory over the United States on Saturday in Washington during a test match in which the Eagles secured their first-ever try against the All Blacks.
The All Blacks, who had not played in the United States since 2016, look comfortable in their first match since their 10-match winning streak was snapped by South Africa in the final game of the Rugby Championship.
Prior to the start, American captain Bryce Campbell dropped to one knee at centre field as he presented a white, No. 11 U.S. jersey in honor of Sean Wainui, the Maori All Blacks player who died in a car crash on Monday.
The All Blacks then performed the haka to honor Wainui and it drew wild applause from those in attendance before the visitors made a blockbuster start to the test match at the home of the NFL’s Washington Football Team.
Straight off the kickoff the ball got shifted wide and George Bridge got away down the wing and fed Finlay Christie, who found Luke Jacobson on the inside and he ran away to score in the corner 28 seconds into the match.
The Eagles, who prior to Saturday’s match had faced the All Blacks three times in test rugby, were vastly outplayed but did make history as they recorded the team’s first ever try against the most successful team in international rugby.
American Nate Augspurger slipped by Sam Whitelock into the backfield, put on a brilliant step past Damian McKenzie while a diving Richie Mo’unga also couldn’t catch him as he scored under the posts to pull the hosts to within 59-7 at the break.
The hosts added a second try when left winger Ryan Matyas dove in the corner in the tackle of Will Jordan. It appeared Matyas was tackled out but the on-field decision of a try was backed by a review that checked if his foot was in touch.
The All Blacks, however, were full of energy and had their attack firing yet were ultimately unable to eclipse their record test victory set at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa when they beat Japan 145-17.
Billed as the 1874 Cup, which is a reference to the first account of organised rugby being played in the United States, the match was designed to grow interest in a nation hoping to stage a future Rugby World Cup.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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