Preview: USA v Russia

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The USA will be aiming to maintain their proud record against Russia when the two teams clash in an international Test-match at Bonney Field in Sacramento, California on Saturday.

The Eagles have won all of their previous six encounters with Russia dating back to 2004 and come into this game on the back of a narrow 24-20 loss against Italy.

The USA have the influence of former All Blacks coach John Mitchell at the helm and it was evident in their loss to Italy that he has been working on the teams fitness and skill set which could prove too much for the visitors to handle throughout the eighty minutes.

Meanwhile, Russia come into this clash on the back of a 46-21 loss to Canada last weekend in which they managed to score three tries but conceded six five-pointers in the process.

The Eastern Europeans will have to make a big improvement on their defensive efforts if they are to stop the likes of Connacht Pro12 winner AJ MacGinty and speedster Blaine Scully from causing damage out wide for the Eagles.

USA coach John Mitchell has made three changes to his starting team for this clash. There are two injury enforced changes which sees  Mike Te'o  replace  Taku Ngwenya on the wing, while James King comes in for Greg Peterson at lock and the final change sees one of last weekends try scorers Tony Lamborn start alongside flanker Todd Clever and number eight Cam Dolan in the back-row.

Wing Blain Scully will want to put in an inspired performance in front of his home town of Sacramento. There will be many supporters cheering him on at the Stadium and he will look to use the atmosphere and the occasion in order to produce some sublime attacking rugby and power his way past the Russia defence on the wing.

The last time the two teams met in 2013 the USA won 28-7.

Taking into account the talent which both teams possess as well as current form and coaching staff the USA should be able to make it seven wins from seven against Russia come the end of the eighty minutes.

Players to watch:

For USA: Nate Augspurger made his debut for the Eagles in last weekend’s defeat against Italy and the scrum-half contributed with some good distribution skills from the base of the ruck. He will feel more comfortable starting in his second consecutive Test-match and with fly-half AJ MacGinty by his side he will have a cool head to guide him when he is under any sort of pressure.

For Russia: Full-back Ramil Gaisin is not a flashy player who will step his way to the try-line and run half the field for an intercept try, however he is very much the type of full-back which every team wants playing for them. He will get under the high ball and come across to make the cover tackles.

Head-to-head: The breakdown should be a titanic battle.USA flanker Todd Clever often manages to get his team over the gain-line with some big carries and he is also an efficient operator at the breakdown, however on Saturday he will face a new opponent in the form of Russia loose forward Viktor Gresev who will no doubt race to the breakdown area with plenty of aggression in order to clean out his man and secure quick ball for his team. 

Previous results:

2013: USA won 28-7 in Barnet
2012: USA won 40-26 in Colwyn Bay
2011: USA won 13-6 in New Plymouth
2011: USA won 32-25 in Worcester
2010: USA won 39-22 in Glendale
2004: USA won 41-11 in Tokyo

Prediction: The USA look to be building a team for the future and if their performance last time out is anything to go by they should be able to win this one by 15 points.

The teams:

USA: 15. Will Holder, 14. Mike Te'o, 13 Thretton Palamo, 12 Shalom Suniula, 11 Blaine Scully (C), 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Nate Augspurger, 8 Cam Dolan, 7 Tony Lamborn, 6 Todd Clever, 5 Nate Brakeley, 4 James King, 3 Chris Baumann, 2 James Hilterbrand, 1 Titi Lamositele
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete'e, 17 Ben Tarr, 18 Angus MacLellan, 19 Harry Higgins, 20 Langilangi Haupeakui, 21 Stephen Tomasin, 22 Chad London, 23 Luke Hume

Russia: 15 Ramil Gaisin, 14 Denis Simplikevich, 13 Kirill Golosnitskiy, 12 Dmitry Gerasimov, 11 Vasily Artemyev (C), 10 Yury Kushnarev, 9 Rushan Iagudin, 8 Anton Rudoi, 7 Pavel Butenko, 6 Viktor Gresev, 5 Denis Antonov, 4 Andrei Garbuzov, 3 Evgeny Pronenko, 2 Evgeny Matveev, 1 Alexey Volkov
Replacements: 16 Nazir Gasanov, 17 Azamat Bitiev, 18 Vladimir Podrezov, 19 Evgeny Elgin, 20 Danila Chegodaev, 21 Alexey Shcherban, 22 Evgeny Kolomiitsev, 23 Anton Ryabov

Date: Saturday, June 25
Venue: Bonney Field
Kick-off: 19:00 local time (02:00 GMT, Sunday, June 26)
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Chris Assmus (Canada)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)