Rugby World Cup 2011 Pool C: Russia 6-13 USA

By Ben DirsBBC Sport at Stadium Taranaki in New Plymouth

Russia's World Cup debut ended in defeat as they were outplayed by the USA in New Plymouth.

In horrendous weather conditions, the Eagles had too much muscle and too much pace for their inexperienced opponents.

USA scrum-half Mike Petri scored the game's only try but not before Yury Kushnarev kicked Russia's first World Cup points from a penalty.

After the restart, Chris Wyles extended his team's lead before Konstantin Rachkov kicked a late penalty.

With unseasonal spring conditions in the coastal North Island city of New Plymouth, fans turned out in numbers at Stadium Taranaki to watch the traditional sporting rivals go head to head.

Mike Petri
Petri scored the only try of the match

Among the costumes in the crowd were eagles, Captain Americas and Russian bears but the prize for bravest outfit of the evening went to an American lady who spent the entire 80 minutes stripped down to a stars and stripes bikini.

Russia, who were looking to defeat the USA for the first time in their history, only had to wait three minutes to score their first-ever World Cup points, fly-half Kushnarev slotting a three-pointer after open-side flanker Andrey Garbuzov was hauled down just short of the try-line.

Shortly after, Kushnarev missed a speculative penalty attempt from just inside the USA half, before Saracens full-back Wyles levelled with a long-range penalty.

Having settled the nerves, the Eagles - coached by former Ireland supremo Eddie O'Sullivan - began to put width on the ball, with Wyles and wing James Paterson finding gaps in the opposition defence.

In contrast, Russia looked to keep things tight but, with USA captain and open-side flanker Todd Clever his usual energetic self - plus Leeds Carnegie loose-head prop Mike MacDonald dominating the scrum - the Russians were unable to string too many phases together.

After 19 minutes, Petri finished off a sweeping move, ferreting over the try-line after a scything break from Roland Suniula, before Wyles kicked the extras.

The Eagles continued to bludgeon away at Russia's defence for the rest of the half but the fact Russia's defence held firm would have been some comfort to their director of rugby, former Wales captain and Sale head coach Kingsley Jones.

Horizontal rain swept in just before the break and put paid to any hopes of an open game, although wing Vladimir Ostroushko did flicker into life at times, including one dangerous dart down the right wing shortly after the restart. But it was the USA who scored next, with Wyles extending their lead with a penalty.

Russia threw the kitchen sink at the Americans in the final 10 minutes, replacement Victor Gresev going on a burst down the left flank and setting up new Northampton signing Vasili Artemiev, who was tackled on the 22.

Rachkov closed the gap to seven points with a penalty following a cheap shot by Clever on Gresev but the result was never in doubt.

The Americans next play Pool C leaders Australia in Wellington on Friday, while Russia face Italy in Nelson on Tuesday.

Ireland, who beat the USA last weekend, are the fifth team in Pool C.

Russia: Klyuchnikov, Ostroushko, Rachkov, Makovetskiy, Artemyev, Kushnarev, Shakirov; Grachev, Fatakhov, Antonov, Voytov, Prishchepenko, Korshunov (captain), Popov.

Replacements: Botvinnikov (for Popov, 73), Byrnes (for Antonov, 60), Gresev (for Garbuzov, 58). Not Used: Tsnobiladze, Khrokin, Yanyushkin, Kuzin.

USA: Wyles, Ngwenya, Emerick, A. Suniula, Paterson, R. Suniula, Petri; Johnson, Clever (captain), Stanfil, Smith, Van der Giessen, Moeakiola, Biller, MacDonald.

Replacements: Scully (for Paterson 38), Usasz (for Petri 67), Pittman (for Moeakiola 39), LaValla (for Johnson 66). Not Used: Thiel, Danahy, Malifa.

Att: 20,800

Referee: Dave Pearson (RFU)