Friday, April 8, 2016

Hong Kong 7s: Eagles Rally To Beat Argentina

Through the first five minutes the Eagles looked headed for a defeat to Argentina in their second pool play match at the Hong Kong 7s. However, refocusing and digging deep saw the team score 26 straight points for a 26-14 win. With the result the U.S. have clinched a spot in the Cup quarterfinals and will face Australia for the top spot in the pool.

The Eagles turned around the match thanks to possession, something they did have early on. Instead, it was Argentina that controlled the ball through long stretches. As happens in 7s they turned that into points with a well worked team try. After a few minutes of back and forth they then received another advantage when Maka Unufe made a silly, silly mistake to throw the ball away and earn a trip to the sin bin. Argentina scored soon after to take a 14-0 lead.

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Rather than crumbling after the yellow card the team refocused. Pinned in their own end the Eagles were able to keep possession long enough to find Perry Baker on the wing. He did his thing to run around the defense and then juke past another player for the try at the halftime hooter. With the conversion the Eagles were back in it at 14-7 and with a full compliment of players for the second half.

The U.S. were pinned in their own end to start the second half but they did have possession. Ben Pinkelman, who was starting in the match, deserves credit for winning the restart multiple times. The possession wasn't always there and on a couple of occasions Argentina were close to a third try. However, the Eagles defense was there and after Garrett Bender won a turnover at the breakdown the ball was spread across the field to Danny Barrett who shouldered off a defender before making a final pass to Unufe for the leveling try.

That's when Baker was able to take over the match. Channeling Odell Beckham he grabbed the restart with one hand and then collected himself to run in for the try. Leading 19-14 with a couple of minutes left the Eagles were able to hold on to possession as Argentina were their worst enemy with needless errors. When Madison Hughes scored off a set play with just 20 seconds left the Eagles were guaranteed the win.

The Eagles deserve credit for the way they came back. They could have easily allowed Argentina to run away with the result but they dug in defensively and the offense flowed as a result. They will now have to use that moment to take on Australia for the top spot in the pool.

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