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Premiership Rugby

USA warms up for Spain with Bristol loss

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Bristol ran in five tries, with two of them coming from England wing Phil Christophers, and the others from wing Brendan Daniel, centre Andy Higgins and flank Michael Lipman.

The Eagles, fielding a largely experimental side, earned an early try through former South Africa Sevens player Riaan Van Zyl on the intercept, and went into the break at only 7-5 down.

With Bristol piling on the points in the second half, the USA shipped on some of their more experienced heads, scoring two counter-attack tries through fly-half Mike Hercus and a second for Van Zyl, but against a Bristol side containing a host of international players, they will have learnt a lot from the experience at the Memorial Stadium, in front of around 2,300 spectators.

Bristol coaching co-ordinator James Grant told the club's website afterwards: "We were pleased with the second half and the tries that we ran in. It was good to see both Craig Short and Brendon Daniel return to action, as well as the opportunities for the young players.

"The young talent we have coming through is a credit to our Academy. Phil [Christophers] did well at outside centre, he tackled well and passed well.

"We had some new combinations out there and some of them were playing together for the first time," he said.

USA coach Tom Billups said of his inexperienced side: "Mark Griffin showed very well with an active game, while Jacob Waasdorp has made good strides in his time at Trinity and it showed today [Sunday]. Jurie Gouws battled well on a troublesome ankle.

"In the backs, Kain Cross made a significant contribution in both attack and defense. For Paul Emerick, it was a big leap in his quest to become a top-flight player and, of course, Riaan Van Zyl confirmed he is a true international." 

The USA now face Spain on Sunday in Madrid, before the return leg in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with the aggregate winner taking up a place in the Rugby World Cup finals in Australia this October.

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