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Monday, January 18, 2016

Falcons Wrap-up South American Tour

The Falcons have finished their tour of South America with a fifth place showing at the Vina del Mar 7s in Chile. Having played against tough competition the last two weeks, including pool matches against Argentina, South Africa, and Canada this week, members of the team will now head back to the U.S. to fight for a spot in Wellington and Sydney as well as gear up for the Elite bracket at the Las Vegas Invitational and in Vancouver.

As mentioned, the Falcons were placed in the "Championship" bracket with Canada, South Africa, and Argentina on day one while South American sides Chile, Peru, Brazil, and Uruguay used a different bracket to decide who goes to the Hong Kong 7s. On day two the brackets intertwined.

The U.S. started out the tournament with a 22-7 loss to Argentina. The developmental Pumas--the tournament was used as development for the top teams--went up 10-0 before Seth Halliman was able to pull a try back for the Falcons. Still, more tries from Ramiro Finco and Juan Pablo Estelles sealed the match for Argentina.

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Next up for the Falcons as South Africa. In a similar story to the Argentina match the Falcons went down early 7-0. Mike Te'o, who was solid all weekend, was able to score for the U.S. to tie the score but from then on it was all South Africa. Things did improve in the last match against Canada. Karsten Leitner put Canada up 7-0 for a few minutes before Te'o scored once again. Canada led at the half 12-7 thanks to a try from Lucas Hammond and then extended their lead with another try from Leitner. However, the Eagles rallied with a second tally from Te'o and then an effort from BYU's Tua Laei for the win.

With two losses and won win the Falcons found themselves matched up against Brazil in the quarterfinals. Brazil have really come as of late and with the Olympics in a few months are putting forth their top team in nearly every tournament. Once again the Falcons played down and it wasn't until a late try from Alex Faison-Donahoe that the Falcons scored. The Falcons lost 33-7.

The loss put them into the Plate semi-finals against Peru. As expected this match turned out better than the others as Anthony Welmers, Laei and Halliman scored to make the final 19-10. In the Plate final against Canada the U.S. went up first thanks to Mike Te'o before Canada leveled the score at 5-5. Halliman scored another try to start the second half but things swung Canada's way with two quick tries from Aaron Evison. Showing experience, the Falcons rallied getting a try from Aaron Davies and a key conversion from Mike Te'o for the 17-15 win. 

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