Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dubai 7s: Eagles Fall To Scotland

The Eagles put themselves in a very difficult position to make the final eight at the Dubai 7s after losing to Scotland 14-5 in their opening match. The Eagles will almost certainly need two wins in pool play to make the next round which means they will now have to beat South Africa to do that. If the Eagles had played with energy against Scotland that might seem like a possibility but the U.S. will have to find a way to shake off the rigidness they showed against Scotland. They seemed hesitant to attack and under sure of themselves on defense and at the breakdown.

7s is a game of possession and Scotland won the match by taking nearly all of it. They were able to claim the restart and from their they stayed patient until they finally found a hole in the U.S. defense for the try. That hole was aided by some less than stellar tackling but if you have possession you will score. With the conversion Scotland led 7-0.

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The U.S. were finally able to gain some possession several minutes into the half but it was soon thrown away when a pass from Hughes couldn't find Baker and found touch instead. That gave the ball back to Scotland and although they couldn't put in a score before the half their 24-5 passing advantage at one point late in the half demonstrated their dominance. The U.S. did have one last chance before halftime but they knocked it on.

Scotland looked to have scored first in the second half. It came from a set play after another U.S. penalty and when the Eagles missed a few tackles Scotland had a shout for a try. However, after consulting with the TMO the referee judged that the ball had been knocked on.

The no try call seemed to energize the Eagles. Maka Unufe and Andrew Durutalo both finally found their way into the game and they helped the Eagles take a page out of Scotland's book to stay patient and work their way down the pitch. From there they worked it wide to Danny Barrett for the try. Unfortunately the conversion missed putting the Eagles down 7-5.

Unfortunately for the Eagles they couldn't keep much possession after the try and with two minutes to go Scotland slipped through the defense for the try and a two possession lead at 14-5. The U.S. won a penalty with just seconds to go but it was sent out allowing Scotland to kill off the game.

Overall the Eagles looked a lot like the team in Rio--stiff, unsure of themselves or scared of making a mistake. It's something that maybe a big win against Uganda could fix but could also aggregate if they aren't able to do what they want to do. The U.S. play Uganda at 3:44 a.m. et/12:44 a.m. pt.

1 comment:

  1. They definitely seemed hesitant/minds not quite in the game. The main thing I've noticed both in Dubai and in Rio is that Baker is getting no space to run. This probably a combination of good teams doing their best to crowd defenders in front of him and his teammates not running lines that give him much to work with.