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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Singapore 7s: Eagles Drop Final To Canada


It was the most unlikely of finals as the U.S. met Canada in the Cup final at the Singapore 7s. You could count the number of finals appearances combined for the two teams on one hand (five, including this one). For the Eagles it was only their third ever finals appearance. Only South Africa, Fiji, and England had even made a final this year (7 out of total 10 tournaments). At least the U.S. had made it to four straight semi-finals. Canada, who had lost a good chunk of their Olympic funding earlier in the year, had only made one semi-final on the season yet both teams were playing phenomenal rugby. Canada upset England in the semi-finals while the U.S took care of Fiji in the quarterfinals and then thrashed Australia in the semis. Add in the fact that these two teams are incredibly close rivals and it made for a thrilling match.

In the end there could only be one winner and that went to Canada 26-19. The Canadians took a page out of the U.S. playbook and rode possession out to an early lead that would be enough of a cushion to secure the win. As a result of the tournament win Canada now move up into 7th place in the standings while the U.S. remain 5th but have inched closer to fourth place New Zealand with two rounds to go.

Take the jump to read more.
Canada got out to an excellent start. It began by crucially keeping the opening kick. From there they played simple ball until they got Matt Mullins out on the wing. He fended off a couple of tries and showed good pace to put Canada up 5-0. Canada soon added another. The U.S. made a mistake to not kick it out on a free kick. From that possession Canada played great rugby, wearing out the U.S. defense, and finding Harry Jones for Canada's second try. Three and a half minutes in the tired Eagles found themselves down 12-0.

An unfortunate bounce of the ball right after the restart and some bad handling from the Eagles allowed Canada to pick up a third try and a 19-0 lead. It was a hole the Eagles would be able to recover from. Full credit to Canada. They came out with a fantastic game plan and executed to perfection. They were in the right position to clean up on mistakes from the Eagles.

The Eagles did grab a try back as Perry Baker, "the Prince of Wingers," finally found some space to go in under the posts. With time to play after the hooter the Eagles showed great resilience to go down the pitch where Steve Tomasin stretched over for the try. At the break it was a game at 19-12.

Baker got the Eagles off to a great start in the second half to make things close. Once again he turned nothing into the something as he slipped past around the Canadian defense on the outside. The conversion tied the score at 19-19.

It looked like things would swing the Eagles way but unlike their previous matches they couldn't come up with the restart and lost momentum. The U.S. did have a shout for a try but Tomasin was held up. From the ensuing scrum the Eagles were loose with a pass and Canada turned it the other way for a try from Lucas Hammond. Canada were able to wind out the clock for the win.

Prior to the tournament we said the Eagles needed to go a step further than just making the semi-finals. They did that and had a chance to win the tournament. The U.S. are an excellent team. No one wants to play them and they have every expectation to contend for a title in Paris and London.




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