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Saturday, May 21, 2016

London 7s: U.S. Draw With Canada, Make Cup Quarterfinals


Thanks to point differential the Eagles only needed a draw, which they got at 12-12, against rivals Canada to book a place in the Cup quarterfinals at the London 7s. After missing the Cup round for two straight tournaments the U.S. will be pleased that they were able to rebound in the final tournament of the season.

Like earlier in the day the damp conditions caused both teams to commit errors to start the match. Some of the slow pace early on was also attributed to solid defense from both teams as they upped their efforts. It took several minutes but finally the deadlock was broken with Danny Barrett came up with a big win at the breakdown. It then took more time but eventually the Eagles were able to wear down the Canadian defense to find Baker for the try. The try came from a great line from Madison Hughes to start the break and then a solid pass back to Baker for the score.

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The U.S. nearly had a second try when Baker caused Canada to knock on the restart and then he put Canada under pressure to earn a turnover only feet from the line. Unfortunately the U.S. weren't able to put in a try. Instead it was Canada that would methodically push down the pitch, earning a big win at the breakdown themselves from John Moonlight, before seeing Connor Trainor score. With the conversion Canada led 7-5 at halftime.

Canada nearly seized the momentum in the second half when Moonlight make a big break for the line. However, he was held up by Martin Iosefo and the Eagles were able to clear.

Another piece of magic from Baker to evade the defense gave the U.S. a 12-7 lead with about three and a half minutes to go. Still, showing resolve Canada pushed down the pitch and when Baker got isolated the ball was spilled. Matt Mullins picked up the ball and rumbled into the corner for the try. It was a good thing that Zack Test stayed with him and pushed him into the corner because the conversion was off and the match was tied at 12-12.

The U.S. then did well to keep possession. They slowly pushed down the pitch and after Canada committed a penalty with no time remaining the U.S. kicked it out knowing a draw was enough.

Overall, it was a better performance from the Eagles than what we saw in Paris or Singapore. It still wasn't their sharpest but it was a job done and they now move on to the Cup quarterfinals with a chance to defend their title.

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