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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cape Town 7s: Eagles Fall To Australia

Brett Thompson scores earlier on day one.
Although the U.S. played well for the most part on day one at the Cape Town 7s there were enough errors that when they faced a team like Australia that there was the potential they could find themselves in trouble. That's what happened as a few sloppy moments, in particular at the end of the match, allowed Australia to beat the Eagles 26-21 and top their group. The U.S. still advance to the Cup quarterfinals and will wait to learn who they play on day two.

Captain Madison Hughes continued his strong day with a try early in the match. It began when Matai Leuta put in the dirty work at the breakdown to earn a turnover and then a series of passes, capped off by a nice offload from Folau Niua, sprung the supporting Hughes. A further gain for the Eagles as Australia had a man sent to the bin for a late hit on Hughes. Still, Australia had an answer for the Eagles all match and straight from the restart they were able to win the ball back. A couple of less than solid tackles later and Greg Jeloudev was in for the try.

Australia did very well to kill time while they had a man in the bin and once they were back to full strength were able to get the binned man, Allan Fa'alava'au into the try zone for the score. At halftime the Wallabies led 14-7. That lead quickly turned into 21-7 in the second half when Australia used their line out, a tactic that worked all match, to find Jeloudev for his second.

That's when the Eagles mad their comeback. After finally keeping some good possession Kevin Swiryn was able to use the presence of Carlin Isles out on the wing to freeze the defense and go in for the try. The whole sequence began with two nice passes from Garrett Bender and Leuta to keep the play alive.

The U.S. were nearly out of the match a moment later when Australia looked to have a breakaway. However, a great cover tackle from Isles caused Australia to knock the ball on in the try zone. Off the ensuing scrum the ball was worked out to Isles who burned the defense. With the conversion the match was knotted at 21-21.

Both teams exchanged penalties with no time left. The U.S. had the opportunity to kick it out for the draw which would have seen them top the group on point differential but they kept playing in search of a try and when they turned it over with a penalty it gave Australia all the room they needed to score the winning try.

Overall, there are lots of positives to take out from the day but the U.S. were not as sharp as they have been in the past. They did make the Cup quarterfinals but they are going to have to be a lot cleaner in elements of their play if they want to make noise on day two.

Starters: Leuta, Bender, Test, Niua, Unufe, Hughes, and Baker

1 comment:

  1. The Eagles get Kenya tomorrow. Tough loss against Australia but plenty of opportunity to improve. Isles saved the game on a gutsy tackle then scored a try that shows his rugby brain is catching up with his feet. It was a stunning try after a great defensive play.