Friday, March 4, 2016

Vegas 7s: Canada Rally To Draw With Eagles

The U.S. had hopes of beating their rivals Canada in their final Friday night match at the Las Vegas 7s but despite taking a multiple try lead the Eagles couldn't stop a late comeback from Canada as the two teams drew 26-26. The U.S. will now finish out pool play against South Africa tomorrow at 5:35 p.m. et/2:35 p.m. pt. They still have an edge on Canada but they will need a result against the Blitzbokke or hope that Wales can hold Canada.

An aggressive start put the U.S. up 5-0 early. The U.S. won their own opening kick and after a solid run from Baker sucked in the defense the ball was sent out to Zack Test to score in the corner. The conversion was off but the U.S. had all the momentum.

An injury to Maka Unufe forcing him out of the game tempered the mood somewhat but an electric play from Perry Baker instantly changed that. Baker is not known for his kicking but when he saw that no one was back defending for Canada he booted the ball past the defense, collected it around halfway and went in for the score. 12-0 to the Eagles.

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It seemed like everything would go the way of the Eagles after the try but Canada had resolve. Off an attacking scrum Harry Jones drew in the defense and then popped out the ball to Admir Cejvanovic for the try. However, any momentum Canada might have gained from the try disappeared when the the restart came loose and Martin Iosefo picked it up for the score. At halftime the Eagles were looking good with a 19-7 lead.

When Perry Baker scored an electric 100 meter try in the second half the match seemed over. That quickly proved false. Consistency has been the Eagles problem all season and it reared it's head again against Canada. First Conor Trainor evaded tackles for a mazy run and then Nathan Hirayama crashed over in the corner. Just like that Canada were within distance at 26-21.

Canada were better at the end of the match when it counted. Possession after possession they starved the U.S. of the ball either with a penalty or by simply taking care of the ball when they had it. That was true with only seconds left in the match. Winning the restart Canada searched for an overlap and finally found one in the form of Phil Mack on the corner for the try. The conversion was off and despite efforts from both teams the match would end in a draw.

Starters: Hughes, Test, Barrett, Bender, Baker, Niua, Unufe

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