Saturday, March 12, 2016

Vancouver 7s: Eagles Beat England, Make Cup Quarterfinals

The Eagles are into the Cup quarterfinals after a 17-12 win over England in their second pool match at the Vancouver 7s. They will next play New Zealand for the top spot in the pool at 9:44 p.m. et/6:44 p.m. pt. The All Blacks beat France in their second pool play match to also make the Cup quarterfinals.

England were a step up in terms of a challenge to the U.S., especially defensively early on as they were able to keep the U.S. from breaking out. However, the Eagles had the majority of the possess and they kept pushing an ever-bending English defense. England did have some time with the ball but good work at the breakdown killed any early England opportunity.

It was a steal at the breakdown from Danny Barrett that would lead to the Eagles first try. With the ball in good position the Eagles stayed patient. A nice hesitation pass from Folau Niua was all the Eagles needed to slip the ball through to Martin Iosefo for his second try of the day.

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The Eagles were solid all match and shortly after Iosefo's try they nearly had another. Folau Niua put in a perfectly timed kick over the defense but the onrushing Perry Baker wasn't able to collect leading to a knock-on. Instead of the Eagles picking up points it would be England that would score last before the half. When referee Richard Kelly judged that Barrett had been too aggressive in removing an England player from the breakdown after a dead ball England had the set play they needed to score in the corner. At the half it was tied 7-7.

With the first score of the second half crucial to how the match would end the Eagles came out aggressive. A win during an England put in at the scrum gave the U.S. a great opportunity to attack. All it took was a few passes out to the wing and Baker was able to easily skirt the defense for the score. The conversion missed but the Eagles looked sharp.

A poach at the breakdown from Martin Iosefo not long after the Baker try once again put the Eagles on the attack. Soon the ball headed out to Baker for a try in the corner. With not much time left the Eagles led 17-7. England scored at the death but it wasn't enough to overcome the Eagles lead.

Overall, the Eagles were extremely crisp. Through only two matches they look like a team not content just to make the Cup quarterfinals but to push for the title on day two. It's especially positive to see considering that the team is missing a number of key players. If these two matches are indicative of U.S. depth they have to feel good.

Starters: Pinkelman, Barrett, Bender, Niua, Hughes, Baker, Iosefo

TIAR"s Vancouver coverage is brought to you by Canterbury USA.

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