Friday, January 27, 2017

Wellington 7s: Eagles Defeat Samoa

After their draw with France earlier in the day the Eagles needed a good 24-12 win over Samoa to keep their quarterfinal hopes alive. From start to finish it was a better game for the Eagles than against France. They were much better at keeping possession and they didn't commit the same small mistakes that cost them against France. Next they'll face New Zealand in their final pool play match. That isn't necessarily a must win depending on other results but a win would put them in the quarterfinals.

The Eagles first try of the day was a beauty. Every single player touched the ball multiple times as the ball was spread back and forth across the field. Danny Barrett started it by saving the ball from going into touch and after several phases and runs from Folau Niua and Martin Iosefo, Perry Baker was there to finish for the early 7-0 lead.

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There was worry on the restart when Baker was pulled down awkwardly but after a minute he was ready to play again. He was needed as soon the Eagles would add another try. Starting with a win at the breakdown from Andrew Durutalo, Barrett and Steve Tomasin did well to make some offloads to find Niua for the second score. The conversion was off but the Eagles still led 12-0.

Samoa were able to find their way into the try zone with not much time left in the half. Capitalizing on their first real spell of possession they stayed patient to wear the Eagles down. Still, the Eagles responded. It looked like the ball was going to go into touch but Perry Baker saved it, tip-toed down the sideline, before finding Niua who found Iosefo. At halftime the Eagles led 19-7.

In the second half both teams struggled to find anything early as each came up with turnovers and produced unforced errors as well. It was the Eagles that would find the next score as Matai Leuta showed a great individual effort to will himself over for the score. That put the Eagles up 24-7 and even though Samoa scored a try with seconds left they were destined for the win.

The U.S. face New Zealand next at 3:02 a.m. et/12:02 a.m. pt.

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