Saturday, May 21, 2016

London 7s: Late U.S. Comeback Not Enough Against South Africa

The crowd in London. 
Despite two late tries missed conversions and missed chances earlier in the match saw the U.S. fall to South Africa 14-10 in their second pool play match at the London 7s. Coupled with their win over Samoa earlier in the day and Canada's win for Samoa it sets up a winner take all match for a spot in the Cup quarterfinals against their rivals at 11:26 a.m. et/8:26 a.m. pt.

Mistakes from both teams early on slowed the pace of the match. Each side had a couple of knock-ons and at one point the U.S. had a good opportunity to Baker go missing when the pass was thrown into touch. That pinned the U.S. back into their own, which is dangerous against South Africa, and soon they would score. From a  line out it was just simple passing out to Seabelo Senatla for a try in the corner and a 7-0 lead.

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South Africa were nearly in again when the U.S. knocked it on but a great defensive play from Perry Baker saw Senatla spill the ball. Conversely, the U.S. had a breakaway from Zack Test just before halftime but he was caught and the ball was knocked on ending the half.

The second half didn't start off well for the Eagles as South Africa made only a couple of passes from the kickoff to find Cecil Afrika. He then shrugged off a couple of U.S. tackles to extend the lead to 14-0.

South Africa did really well throughout the match to slow down the play and take time off the clock. They also did really well to limit the U.S. opportunities. Yes, the U.S. made mistakes but many of those were caused by a very good South African team.

However, as the match progressed the U.S. finally began to find their footing. First Baker had a breakaway only to be put into touch by Afrika. Then Maka Unufe had an opportunity but the ball was won back by South Africa at the breakdown.

The Eagles first try came for the Eagles with just a little more than a minute left. Pouncing on an overthrown line out Nate Augspurger went in untouched for the try. Unfortunately he also rushed the conversion when he should have taken more time and it was off.

That put the U.S. down two scores with just a minute to go. They did grab a second try from Ben Leatigaga but with no time left on the clock it was too little too late with South Africa winning 14-10.

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

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