Saturday, April 9, 2016

Hong Kong 7s: U.S. Over Australia, Top Pool

The Eagles have gone 3-0 through pool play at the Hong Kong 7s thanks to a 22-7 win over Australia. Not only does the win see them top the pool to grab a match-up with the number two team from Pool B on day two but it sees them get past an Australian side that has made two finals appearances this year and sits directly above them in the standings.

Like they did against Argentina earlier in the day the U.S. fell behind early. James Stannard did an excellent job placing Australia's first two kickoffs allowing his team to retain possession. From there it was simple phase play before they find an overlap out wide for a 7-0 lead.

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That try seemed to wake the Eagles up, especially on restarts where Ben Pinkelman was massive for the side yet again. He did well on multiple occasions to make sure the Eagles retained the ball and possession. Like Australia did, the U.S. used that possession to go through multiple phases. When they did turn the ball over they were quick to win it back at the breakdown. Eventually that hard effort turned into points with Garrett Bender scoring in the corner. The conversion was off but the U.S. were on the board at 7-5.

Another Pinkelman win at the restart allowed the U.S. to march down the field. They tested the Australian defense on several occasions before a nice series of offloads from Martin Iosefo, Maka Unufe, and Madison Hughes found Hughes go around the defense. Heading into halftime the Eagles had their first lead at 12-7.

In the second half it was all about possession once again and keeping the team fresh. Head coach Mike Friday rough on Zack Test, Nate Augspurger, Peter Tiberio, and Perry Baker only a few minutes into the half and it quickly paid dividends. Getting the ball out wide Baker torched the defense to put the Eagles up 17-7.

Now with a ten point advantage the U.S. wisely used up as much clock as they could to starve Australia of the ball. When Australia did have the ball the U.S. defense stepped up and limited their chances. When Pinkelman scored a try in the corner with less than thirty seconds to go it sealed the result for the Eagles.

They will now play the second place team in Pool B at 11:20 p.m. et/8:20 p.m. pt tonight.

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