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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Dubai 7s: Eagles Smash New Zealand For 3rd Place

Prior to this weekend the U.S. had never beaten New Zealand on the World Sevens Series. Now they've done it twice. Yesterday they had to score a late, dramatic try to beat the All Blacks but there was no need for heroics in the 3rd place match as the Eagles jumped on New Zealand early and often on their way to a 31-12 win. It was the most ever points scored by the U.S. against New Zealand.

The U.S. had the first chance of the match when Isles found some space on the wing but he was pulled into touch. Regaining possession New Zealand stayed very patient and with a couple of penalties were able to work their way to the try line where Sherwin Stowers powered over for the try. With the conversion New Zealand lead 7-0 early.

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That was all New Zealand would get until the end of the match. The U.S. were soon the board with more great team play, a hallmark of their success all weekend. A fantastic run from Kevin Swiryn to evade several tacklers put the U.S. down the pitch. An offload to Folau Niua from Swiryn put Niua in for the try. Matai Leuta then won the restart giving the U.S. more possession. They stayed patient, taking a page out of the New Zealand book, made several creative offloads, and eventually found Swiryn for a try.

The match looked like it would go into halftime with the holding a one try advantage until hard work on defense created another opportunity for the Eagles. The work at the breakdown was phenomenal almost all weekend, something that was of concern with Andrew Durutalo out of the team, but the U.S. proved up to the task and a poach just before the halftime hooter allowed the U.S. the possession they needed. Nate Augspurger took a quick tap, passed to Niua, who then fed Will Holder for a try. At halftime the U.S. led 19-7.

In the second half the U.S. didn't let off the gas pedal. Garrett Bender won the restart and a few phases later he had a shout for a try but was held up. New Zealand would have an opportunity in the half when they tried the chip ahead. However, Zach Test was there to win the ball in the air but did take a nasty spill in the process. That act earned a yellow card on New Zealand and with the man advantage the U.S. had no trouble finding Perry Baker who slipped past a tackle for a try.

With the score now 26-7 the U.S. won the restart and quickly worked it out to Holder for his second try. New Zealand would score a final try after the hooter from Lewis Ormond.

Every stop on the Series this year is practice for the Olympics and if this was Rio the U.S. would be going home with a bronze. It was also the third straight Cup semi-finals for the team, setting a new standard. As we mentioned before the tournament the U.S. must be competitive and beat the top teams while easily taking care of business against the rest. Despite their hiccup against the French that nearly proved costly, they achieved their objectives with two wins over New Zealand, a win over South Africa, and a should have won against England. All in all, bright times ahead.

Starters:  Leuta, Test, Holder, Isles, Swiryn, Niua, Augspurger


  1. Great start to the Series, and to build on! Can't wait until the rest of the boys are healthy and can rejoin the team.

  2. Bloody French!! It is so heartening to see the USA boys reaping their fully deserved rewards for their hard work over the years. I hope the country gets behind these potential world beaters because they have not only made winning a habit but because they are playing some really exciting entertaining rugby. PS, I'm a long suffering Scottish rugby supporter so this is not Jingoism!