Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Vegas 7s: Eagles Player Grades

Photo: Connie Hatfield
All season the expectations for the Eagles 7s have been high. Winning the London 7s would do that for any team. It's easy to jump on the team and say they should be doing more but you have to put everything in perspective. The team finished fourth in Vegas. If this were Rio they would have been in contention for a medal. Who would have thought that even a year ago? With all that in mind it's hard to give the team less than stellar remarks.

Zack Test (7): I want to share a story about how much Zack Test wants to win. After each match in Vegas members of the media go down to interview players. Almost always they are extremely accommodating, something we're really grateful for. After the Eagles lost to South Africa by a fairly big margin in pool play I asked Test if he had a minute. Normally Test is one of the best interviews and very willing. He sharply said no this time. In fairness to him and to my fault, I should have recognized he was talking to the trainer and that it wasn't the appropriate time but more importantly, Test was so pissed about the loss that he didn't want to do anything but get back out there are reverse the result. It was pure competitive fire.

Take the jump to read more.

That's exactly what you want out of a leader on your team. This Eagles team wants to win--badly. As you saw on multiple occasions the team rebounded to improve their game when in years past they might have folded. To be sure, it wasn't a perfect weekend from Test but it's hard to argue against someone that passionate about playing well.

Madison Hughes (6): The wind played a lot of havoc with Hughes over the weekend, especially in his kicking game. However, he was mostly spot on and his tackling is very, very underrated. All that said, he's to the point where he needs to find another level.

Danny Barrett (7.5): Barrett is a beast. Opponents don't want to tackle him and he was a leader at the breakdown this go around.

Folau Niua (7): A lot of people are going to jump on Niua for sending the final kick against Fiji too deep. That would be a mistake. He was kicking it high to give his jumpers a good chance and the ferrous wind in San Diego. That was emblematic of a lot of things about Niua's weekend. The wind probably impacted him the most on Sunday and limited what he could do. That said, he was good all over the pitch. He defends well and gives the attack extra oomph.

Martin Iosefo (6.5): Iosefo was asked to pick up a lot of slack when Maka Unufe and Will Holder went down with injuries. Iosefo is a different kind of player as Mike Friday pointed out after the tournament but he still came in and was able to give the Eagles a spark.

Carlin Isles (6): One of the main talking points from Friday during and after the tournament was that the pitch wasn't as wide as World Rugby had suggested it would be. The narrowness of the pitch limited Isles somewhat but he's shown enough maturity in his game to be effective regardless of pitch width. The wind and solid defenses did limit his chances, however.

Perry Baker (6.5): A lot of what was said for Isles could also be said by Baker. At the same time, Baker should be singled out for his defensive work in the tournament. His chip ahead and collect was also a thing of beauty.

Garrett Bender (7):  Bender returned to the team in a big way. The team needed a force at the breakdown in Wellington and Sydney and they got it back with Bender. He's not flashy and his stats won't pop out at you but his dirty work is what separates him.

Ben Pinkelman (7): Pinkelman probably saw more time than he would normally see but he did well with the chance. He's still young and has a lot of years to contribute to the Eagles.

Nate Augspurger (7): Whatever situation Augspurger responds. Like other players on the team it wasn't flash but Augspurger comes in and keeps the same level of energy.

Maka Unufe (NA): The Eagles were glad to have Unufe back and his presence was felt immediately. However, his should injury meant that he didn't get enough time for a grade. Our guess is that if he had been healthy the Eagles would have been even more dynamic.

Will Holder (NA): The same goes for Holder as Unufe above. Unlucky with the injury. 

1 comment:

  1. ummmm Sir/Madam, I differ with on the Scores of Baker and Martin. Those boys scored in big moments and defended well. Nate and Bender have 7s when they lost the ball in crucial moments. Im sorry but I think the scores are not fair.