Saturday, December 10, 2016

Cape Town 7s: Eagles Lost To South Africa

The Eagles moved to 1-1 at the Cape Town 7s after a 28-10 loss to South Africa. However, the team is still on track to make the quarterfinals if they defeat Russia in their final pool play match. Facing the host team was always going to be difficult and when the U.S. had a couple of errors South Africa were there to capitalize.

The U.S. started the match well putting South Africa on their back foot for a long stretch. That was eventually capped off with a try. Folau Niua took kick well and then after a few phases Perry Baker drew in the defense before offloaded to Maka Unufe who went in for the try. The conversion missed and the Eagles led 5-0.

However, it's hard to keep South Africa off the board. On the restart Seabelo Senatla kicked the ball down the pitch. He whiffed on one of his kicks but Cecil Afrika was there to clean up for the try and a two point lead.

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On the subsequent restart Steve Tomasin made a poor pass that allowed Werner Kok to score close to the half. It was a very disappointing way to end the half for the Eagles and then it got worse at the start of the second half as Senatla scored to push South Africa ahead 21-5. Once again it was Afrika orchestrating the offense and getting the U.S. to commit.

The defense pressure of South Africa continued to force the U.S. into handling mistake. That nearly led to another try shortly after their latest try. However, the U.S. were able to clear after they earned a penalty. From the line out after that penalty the Eagles put in their best phases of the half moving the ball back and forth across the pitch. Unfortunately Kevon Williams found himself isolated and the ball was turned over again.

South Africa didn't find touch on the penalty allowing the U.S. to retain possession. After another penalty the Eagles tapped and went where they ball found Danny Barrett on the wing. He trucked the defender to go in for the try. The conversion missed and the Eagles were behind 21-10 with a minute and a half to go. South Africa did have one last try in them after the restart to seal the match.

The Eagles will be disappointed with their errors that cost themselves in the match but will have to feel positive knowing that if they cleaned those up they could have beaten the Blitzbokke. If they play with similar energy against Russia (12:34 p.m. et/9:34 a.m. p) then they should move on the the medals quarterfinals.

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