Sunday, March 5, 2017

Vegas 7s: Eagles Beat New Zealand For Third

Photo: Connie Hatfield

The Eagles have finished the Vegas 7s in third place after a 19-15 win over New Zealand in the Cup consolation match. The U.S. showed great resilience once again in front of a boisterous home crowd. Like they have done all tournament the Eagles started out well. Keeping possession and slowly working their way down the pitch the Eagles found themselves about ten meters from the tryzone. With New Zealand playing strong defense it took a moment of brilliance from Maka Unufe, who spun out of a tackle just after taking the ball from a ruck, to get the match's opening try. The easy conversion put the U.S. up 7-0.

The U.S. further caught a break when a New Zealand player was sent to the bin for a dangerous tackle. However, as New Zealand kept possession they were able to wind their way down the pitch. It didn't help that the U.S. defense seemed tired and soon DJ Forbes found himself over in the corner.

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New Zealand found another score early in the second half as Tim Mikkelson easily slipped through the U.S. defense. That gave New Zealand their first lead at 10-7. Still, the U.S. were determined in the match. Danny Barrett, who was a monster all weekend, came up with a big run that put the U.S. down the pitch. An even better cleanout from Folau Niua saved the poach from New Zealand and after a penalty on the All Blacks the U.S. executed a nice play to find Barrett for the try and a 14-10 lead.

Sione Molia then changed the momentum in favor of New Zealand with an amazing try and arguably the try of the weekend. He eluded nearly every U.S. player on his way to ziagging and zagging his way down to the try. However, like all of New Zealand's tries on the day the conversion was off.

The U.S. recovered the restart but without much time on the clock they had to go nearly the entire length of the pitch. That is when Barrett came up big once again with a run that put him ten meters short. He was caught and the U.S. looked in trouble but a penalty on New Zealand gave them life. From there a terrific cutout pass from Ben Pinkelman to Andrew Durutalo gave the U.S. the winning try.

Overall it was a successful tournament for the Eagles and sees them move up in the Series standings. 

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