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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Singapore 7s: Eagles Fall To New Zealand, Miss Cup Quarterfinals

For the first time in over a year the Eagles will miss out on the Cup quarterfinals after falling to New Zealand 19-12 in their final pool play match at the Singapore 7s. Having lost to France earlier on a couple of missed conversions they needed a win against New Zealand to advance. They will now play Russia at 11:36 p.m. et/8:36 p.m. pt/

The U.S. started out with possession but a penalty allowed New Zealand to have the ball and set up. From there it was just simply play and a great play from Regan Ware to fend off the U.S. defense to give the All Blacks an early 5-0. New Zealand added a second just a minute later when strong defense from Liam Messam forced Zack Test to caught up the ball. That put Ware out running where he made an excellent offload to Dylan Collier to put New Zealand up 12-0.

Take the jump to read more.
New Zealand continued to pressure the U.S. and were soon rewarded with a third try, this time from Kurt Baker. It was once again simple passing a great support that finished the try but it was the defensive effort that caused the U.S. to make mistakes that allowed New Zealand the time and possession they needed. Even though New Zealand were running out some youngsters they will still punish any mistake and they did that to a lethal degree against the Eagles to take a 19-0 halftime lead.

New Zealand nearly added a fourth a minute into the second half but Gilles Kaka couldn't hold on to the chip ahead. Instead, it was the Eagles that would score. Getting the ball deep in their own half on the Kaka knock-on Maka Unufe mazed through multiple defenders to run 80 meters for the try. With four minutes left the Eagles had life at 19-7.

The Eagles were quickly back at it. Finally being able to keep possession they put New Zealand on the back foot and it was simple passing and taking on All Black defenders that eventually led to a shout for a try. Perry Baker did very well to kick ahead and found himself alone in the try zone but he was judged to have gone blast the deadfall line when trying to touch down. In Baker's defense, the line was not well marked but it looked like the correct call.

That non-try would prove pivotal. Rather than being down a try with a few minutes left the Eagles were left searching for a score. That would eventually come as a terrific chip ahead from Folau Niua was recovered by Test for the try. With a minute to go the Eagles trailed 19-12.

Needing only a try to go through the U.S. had a chance when Perry Baker won the restart but the U.S. weren't able to hold and New Zealand kicked it down the pitch and into touch to finish off the match.

The U.S. will be disappointed not to make it to the Cup round. They were one of only five teams to have made the Cup quarterfinals every tournament this year. They will be in danger of falling behind Argentina in the standings but more importantly it sends a signal that every team on the Series is dangerous and that you have to do the little things right to win.

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