Mitchell's Eagles draw with Argentina

John Mitchell (Gallo Images)
John Mitchell (Gallo Images)

Los Angeles - The United States got their Americas Rugby Championship campaign off to a strong start Saturday with a 35-35 draw against Argentina in John Mitchell's debut as the new Eagles coach.

The Americans powered their way to a 35-28 lead in the 75th minute on back-to-back tries by Cam Dolan and prop Eric Fry, but just three minutes later Argentina's Tomas Carrio scampered over to level at 35-35.

James Bird had a chance to give the USA the lead again but his penalty in the 80th minute drifted wide.

Argentina also missed a last-gasp penalty from replacement Juan Novillo when his long-range attempt dropped agonizingly short as the teams shared the points in front of 10,241 spectators at Houston's BBVA Compass Stadium.

"It was a good starting point," said former All Blacks coach Mitchell, who recently signed a four-year deal to take over as head coach of the Eagles.

"But a draw is not always something that you enjoy and also you don't experience too many of them in your career."

The Americas Rugby Championship, a second-tier version of Europe's Six Nations tournament for top North and South American rugby union teams, kicked off Saturday with three contests.

The tournament will be played over five weeks with a champion decided on March 5.

While not a fully powered Pumas squad, fifth-ranked Argentina did boast rising young talent from the same developmental system that has made the South American nation a force in the sport.

Canada opened their tournament with a convincing 33-17 win over Uruguay.

Dan Moor scored a pair of tries while Phil Mackenzie, Nick Blevins and Alistair Clark also scored tries in front of a crowd of 1,123 at Westhills Stadium.

"We worked together and came up as a team," interim head coach Francois Ratier said. "That's the spirit we want. I am pleased for the boys."

Canada led 19-7 at halftime and added two more second half tries while holding off a determined Uruguayan side.

Left winger Italo Zunino and centre Francisco de la Fuente scored first half tries as Chile held on to edge Brazil 25-22 in a surprisingly close match in Santiago.

Jose Ignacio Larenas capped the scoring for Chile in the second half with a breakaway try to make it 25-12. Outside centre Matias Nordenflycht broke the line to start the play and then offloaded to Leonardo Montoya who found a wide open Larenas.

Nordenflycht opened the scoring early in the first half by giving Chile a 3-0 lead with the first of his two penalties.

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