Wednesday, March 2, 2016

LVI Preview: Men's Elite A Toss-up

By and large the Men's Elite bracket at the Las Vegas Invitational is wide open. There are favorite sides, including Daveta from Fiji, the Falcons, the Northeast Academy, and France Development, but if there is something we've learned from past years it's that anything can happen in the tournament. Last year it was Germany and this year it could be a team like Chile or the Denver 7s that impress.

Most U.S. fans are going to have their eyes on the Falcons and other top U.S. developmental teams. By now most should be familiar with many of the names on the Falcons roster. Arguably the biggest name on the roster is Thretton Palamo, who has been a regular for the Eagles on the Series this year. He'll be looked upon to provide veteran leadership and score a bunch of tries.

Another player with experience is Shalom Suniula. He's gone back down to San Diego to try and push into the Eagles and this will be his chance to possibly shine. Pat Blair, Ben Leatigaga, and Matai Leuta also have experience on the Series.

Take the jump to read more.
Awaiting the Falcons in Pool B are Tumatauenga, a team of Taylor Howden's friends, the Florida ODA, and France Development. It's the French that are expected to be the toughest challenge. France take the LVI seriously and they've made good challenges in the past. You can expect more of that this weekend.

Other U.S. teams to keep an eye on include the Northeast Academy, Denver, and the Stars. The Northeast Academy are once again bringing a whole host of players that have proven themselves. Derek Lipscomb has been playing in England and looking good. Other players like Dylan Carrion, Pono Haitsuka, Rick Kirkland, Mike St. Claire, and others have been at many LVIs and international tournaments. They know what's needed to step up. They will have to get past Chile, Stars 2, and the Air Force to do it.

The Denver 7s have played some excellent rugby over the last few years. If they have the core of their team from the previous years they should be a good challenger to make the final. They will have to beat the Froggies Midol, Atlantis, and the Bridge City 7s to do that. The Bridge City 7s is a combination team center in Portland.

The Stars 1 should like their chance of making the Cup quarterfinals having been grouped with Daveta, Peru and Cayman Islands 2 in Pool A. Make no mistake, Daveta are probably the favorites to win the tournament. They are a Fijian dream team that has won almost every non-Series tournament in recent years. They will likely top the pool but the Stars 1 could put up big scores on Peru and the Cayman Islands.

Finally, Pool E has Germany, the Elite Selects, Cayman Islands 1, and the Black Dragons. If they aren't fatigued from having played in Europe expect Germany to do well in this group.

Play in the division begins Thursday morning. Pool play will finish that day with the Cup quarterfinals and the Plate and Bowl finals on Friday. The cup semi-finals and final will be on Saturday in the main stadium.

Pool A: Daveta, Stars 1, Peru, Cayman Islands 2
Pool B: Falcons, Tumatauenga, Florida, France Development
Pool C: Northeast Academy, Chile, Stars 2, Air Force
Pool D: Froggies Midol, Denver 7s, Atlantis, Bridge City 7s
Pool E: Germany, Elite Selects, Cayman Islands 1, Black Dragons

Falcons: Pat Blair, Aaron Davis, Seth Halliman, Tua Laei, Ben Leatigaga, Matai Leuta, Peter Malcolm, Jope Motokana, Thretton Palamo, ConRoy Smith, Joey Sok, Shalom Suniula

Northeast Academy: Josh Corpuz-Jackson, Dylan Carrion, Stephen Dazzo, Chris Frazier, Pono Haitsuka, Connor Wallace-Sims, Rick Kirkland, Derek Lipscomb, Sean McGarrity, Sean Rafferty, Alex Schwarz, Mike St. Claire


*Brandon Baker - wing/center - Campion Grads RFC, Regina, Canada
Harry Boileau - hooker/scrumhalf, Tribe 7s, Sydney, Australia
Sam Caslick - flyhalf - Tribe 7s, Brisbane, Australia
Lewie Catt -prop - Iconz 7s, Sydney, Australia
Tom Connor - hooker/center - Tribe 7s, Sydney, Australia
*Daniel Cook - prop - Snake River Rugby, Boise, USA
Cliff Davidson -hooker/prop - San Antonio RFC, San Antonio, USA
Loui Fesolai -center/prop/hooker - Caloundra RFC, Sunshine Coast, Australia
Antony Fitch -scrumhalf/flyhalf - Bournemouth, Wimborne, England
Tyler Herrara -center/scrumhalf - San Antonio RFC, San Antonio, USA
*Lee Hoskins - prop - Youngbloodz 7s, Minneapolis, USA
Bradley Jones - center/flyhalf - Bond University Rugby Club, Gold Coast, Australia
Tola Kasali - prop - Washington Rugby Club, Washington DC, USA
*Bobby Kling - hooker/center - DC Irish, Washington DC, USA
*Nick Laws - scrumhalf/center/wing - Sunnybank, Brisbane, Australia
Evan Pierson - wing - Kansas City Blues, Kansas City, USA
Junior Va’a Pulu - prop/hooker - Nashville RFC, Nashville, USA
Andreas Robertson - prop/center - Esher, England
*Matt Ryan - prop/hooker - Old Aztec, San Diego, USA
*Marcus Satavu - hooker/prop/wing - New Haven RFC, New Haven, USA
Zack Schell - prop/center/wing - Pittsburgh Harlequins, Pittsburgh, USA
*John Sullivan - prop - Saint Bonaventure, Buffalo, USA
John Taulaga - flyhalf - Denver Barbarians, Denver, USA
Bradley Yandle - prop/center - Austin Blacks, Austin, USA

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