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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Paris 7s: Eagles Fall Early On Day Two


The Eagles had an early, disappointing finish at the Paris 7s with an exit in the Bowl semi-finals. They beat Portugal on day two before losing to Scotland. Overall the Eagles had a lackluster performance by their standards. They didn't execute the way they would have liked and at times seemed like they were going through the motions. They will have an opportunity to regroup next week at the London 7s, a tournament they won last year.

Eagles 12-14 Scotland

The U.S. had a couple of good opportunities to score in the first couple of minutes. However, as they would see throughout the day, a small mistake, this time a forward pass, killed the opportunity. Instead it was Scotland that would take advantage of their opportunity with Dougie Fife scoring. The try came off the U.S. not being able to stay on the right side of the whistle and Scotland simply pushing the ball down the pitch.

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Perry Baker went on one of his patented runs and looked destined for the corner but showing great awareness found the trailing Niua to center the ball under the posts rather than the corner. With the try they were all tied up at the half 7-7.

Scotland would score first in the second half with a great offload off the deck to score under the posts themselves. The easy conversion put them up 14-7 with four and a half minutes remaining.

With about a minute to go the Eagles looked like they were going to score but once again it was a small mistake at the breakdown that cost them. They did get a try to end the match, however. It began with a win at the line out and then it was a few phases nearly midfield before Baker showed great pace to beat the defense. He was caught up the Eagles worked through the phases before Test scored. Unfortunately the conversion was off and the Eagles tournament was finished.

Starters: Pinkelman, Bender, Test, Palamo, Niua, Hughes, Baker

Eagles 19-17 Portugal

The match against Portugal didn't start well. A very poor pass from Garrett Bender hung in the air allowing Portugal to pick it off. However, the U.S. defense stayed strong and after winning a penalty Zack Test too a quick tap and went three-quarters of the pitch for the try. Hughes would hit the conversion and the Eagles led 7-0.

Try number two would come just a few minutes later. Another win at the breakdown and another quick tap gave the U.S. an advantage that Maka Unufe would use to score. Hughes would hit another big conversion to push the lead to 14-0.

Portugal had a break on the restart when the tap from Bender landed in their hands. However, fantastic work to track back defensively from Baker prevented the try. The U.S. had one more opportunity to score before the end of the half but instead it was Portugal that would turn it over and turn it into a try. At the break the U.S. led 14-5.

The U.S. got on the board first in the second half. When the ball came loose from a Portugal put-in at the scrum Test was there to capitalize to run in for the try. With two minutes to go Portugal were given a penalty try when Garrett Bender held a player back. He was also sent to the bin in the process. That play, which started with the Eagles spilling the ball, was emblematic of the tournament for the team. The try made it 19-12 with a minute to go.

Aderito Esteves would then score with just less than a minute to go but the conversion was badly miffed and the Eagles led 19-17. The U.S. would hold on for the win.

Starters: Pinkelman, Bender, Test, Niua, Unufe, Hughes Baker

3 comments:

  1. The Eagles looked jaded during the entire tournament.

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  2. Can't tell if it's either increased talent from other teams or downward trending on USA's part or maybe both. Test looks like he's lost a step from injury or mentally and Maka is nowhere to be found. Need more attack in the interior instead of relying on Baker's get out of jail trys on the wing.

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    1. It sounds a lot like both to me. The boys seem lost on the field. That's a Captain issue. Either he is not providing good direction on the field, or the players aren't listening and are trying their own thing, and he isn't cracking down on it. I know some key players are out due to injury, but this trend is just removing all chance for them to even medal in Rio, much less take the Gold.

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