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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Vegas 7s: Eagles Player Grades

Photo: Connie Hatfield
A third place showing in Vegas only brings good grades to the Eagles 7s. If you think about it their only two losses were to England (a match they should have won) and champions South Africa.

Andrew Durutalo (6): Durutalo finally seems settled back into 7s after playing with the Sunwolves last year. That's a good thing as it means he was more active at the breakdown and could suck in the defense for players on the wing.

Madison Hughes (6.5): Hughes hasn't been having his best year but we thought he rebounded in Vegas. Everything in his game seemed sharper and he played with more control. One thing you should watch in Vancouver is his tackle rate. It's outstanding.

Folau Niua (7): We say it all the time but Folau Niua is extremely underrated. His restarts are excellent, he provides good cover defense, and he may be the best passer in American rugby. He's also an ironman that continually turns out for the team.

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Danny Barrett (8): Barrett deservedly made the Dream Team. He was the Eagles most consistent threat all weekend and he got the crowd going with his bursting runs. We also thought his work at the breakdown was some of his best in awhile.

Steve Tomasin (6.5): Overall it wasn't the most flashy tournament for Tomasin but he continues to do a lot of the small, unnoticed things that help the U.S. win matches. There is a reason he starts and it's because he is a great piece  in the machinery that helps the Eagles work.

Maka Unufe (7): The saying should go "as goes Unufe so go the Eagles." When Unufe is playing well the Eagles are so difficult to beat. He turned things around against Argentina and he continued to help the Eagles see success. A fully healthy Unufe is huge.

Perry Baker (6.5): Without Carlin Isles teams have done a better job of being able to focus their energy on Baker limiting what he can do. He still made a couple of tries out of nothing and his ability on restarts helped the team retain crucial possession.

Ben Pinkelman (7.5): Pinkelman was outstanding. In his first tournament back from injury it took him a couple of matches to find his form but when he did he reminded everyone why he is seen a the future core piece to the team.

Martin Iosefo (6): By his own lofty standards it probably wasn't Iosefo's best tournament. Maybe it was the opposition but Iosefo didn't find as many moments of breaking through the defense as he has in the past. He also had a couple of passes he'd like back. That said, he was a solid piece that helped the Eagles finish in third.

Matai Leuta (NA): Leuta was another player that didn't see a lot of time coming off the bench in only two matches.

Walt Elder (NA): Elder only got into the Chile match towards the end so it's not enough time for a grade.

Pat Blair (6): Blair joked with us after the 3rd place that he couldn't comment because he didn't get the game. It was pretty funny. In addition to his ability to come on to the pitch and provide an energy boost he provides one off the pitch as well which in the grind of the season is incredibly important. He also scored his first try.

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