Sunday, March 13, 2016

Vancouver 7s: Fiji Bests Eagles In Extra Time

Photo: Summit Lights Photography

It was gritty, it was back and forth, it featured extra time, and in the end the U.S. couldn't top the best 7s team in the world in a 31-26 loss to Fiji in the Cup quarterfinals at the Vancouver 7s. The match was a great advertisement for rugby and even with the loss the U.S. felt there was a lot of positives in their play. They will move on to play Wales next at 5:24 p.m. et/2:24 p.m. pt.

The recipe for beating Fiji has always been to starve them of the ball. The Eagles were fantastic at that early winning the first couple of restarts. That possession turned into a try quickly. After Danny Barrett won the opening kick the ball went through a couple of phases before Madison Hughes hesitated enough to put Martin Iosefo in for the try. Iosefo has been big all weekend providing a lot of power plus speed. With the conversion the Eagles led 7-0.

Take the jump to read more.
Once again they won the subsequent restart but the ball went back and forth through both teams and both were excellent at the breakdown. Winning the ball back the Eagles went on the attack and with simple possession and simple passing soon found Ben Pinkelman who slipped through a couple of tacklers for the score. Just like that the Eagles were up 12-0.

But Fiji are Fiji and if you spill the ball they are going to take advantage. That's exactly how it played out with Savenaca Rawaca scoring to make it 12-5. Fiji had a couple of opportunities to finish out the half but couldn't come up with a score.

Instead, it was the Eagles that would gain a big try before the break. Fiji committed multiple infractions leading to a yellow card. They could have easily had another card given to them when they batted the ball purposely into touch after Niua tried to connect on a grubber to Baker. Instead the Eagles had the ball at the five meter line and easily converted pushing the score to 19-5 at the break.

The teams traded possession in the second half with Fiji having more of the ball. Eventually they would score their second try of the match on a chip ahead. Soon a third came with the Eagles missing a few key tackles. With about three minutes to go the match was level at 19-19.

The U.S. struck back right away. Iosefo shrugged off a couple of tacklers and offloaded to Baker who went untouched for the try. 26-19. However, there was enough time left on the clock that Fiji were able to score once again near the end to level the match and send it into extra time.

Holding on to the restart Fiji went through simple phases to score in the corner and pick up the 31-26 win. Overall, it was a frustrating result for the Eagles but one they will have to quickly forget as they move on to face Wales.

Starters: Pinkelman, Barrett, Bender, Niua, Hughes, Baker, Iosefo (there were no substitutes used in the match!)

We spoke with Danny Barrett and Mike Friday after the match.

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

1 comment:

  1. I love the move of Madison Hughes to center. He's a great player and being in the center he has more room to create space for the big sprinters. He's stepping up this tournament.