Saturday, December 10, 2016
Cape Town 7s: Eagles Blank Australia
The Eagles gave their chances of making the medals quarterfinals a big boost after beating Australia 19-0 in their first match at the Cape Town 7s. Traditionally, the Eagles have always done better of the second leg of a two tournament series and that was evident once again as they played one of their best matches in awhile. With tough sides Australia and South Africa in their pool the U.S. had to beat one of them and now they have a chance to beat both to top the group. They play South Africa at 9:10 a.m. et/6:10 a.m. pt.
The match started well with Perry Baker taking the restart in the air (with an assist from Danny Barrett). Even though Australia won the ball back at the breakdown the U.S. defense was up to the task forcing Australia into coughing up the ball. Sloppiness of Australia was a theme throughout the match but a lot of that had to do with the U.S. defense. On several occasions early Australia had a couple of five meter scrums and what looked to be sure tries only to be caught. In particular on one sequence a big hand from Andrew Durutalo stopped a score.
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The first try of the match came as Australia pushed for a try on another one of their five meter scrums. However, this time Perry Baker was there to intercept the ball, clip a couple of tackles, and head in for the length of the field try. The conversion was good and the Eagles led 7-0.
Australia had one last chance to score before the half but a weird sequence that saw both teams try to capitalize on loose play and knock-ons was ended when Folau Niua crunched James Stannard with a big tackle. It was tight at the break and the only time the U.S. had in their Australian half was Baker's try but it was still a solid first half.
The second half got off to a brilliant start for the Eagles. The Eagles once again claimed the restart and quick hands worked it to Folau Niua who broke through the defense. He headed to the corner and stretched out for the try. The TMO looked it over but it was ruled good and the Eagles led 12-0.
Overall the Eagles looked sharp. Even when they made mistakes their handling was there and they were playing with confidence. That led directly to their third try. After Australia somehow knock-ed on the restart that wasn't going to go 10 the U.S. made several circus passes, but held on to them, and soon found themselves close to the line. From there Steve Tomasin did well to power past the defense for the score. The difficult conversion attempt was good and the Eagles led 19-0.
Australia did have some opportunities but the U.S. work at the breakdown was excellent throughout the match. They made things very difficult for Australia to the point where they couldn't get anything going. That's the same type of defensive intensity they are going to need against South Africa if they are going to have success. Still, thanks to the win they've given themselves a great chance to make the top eight.