Sunday, May 21, 2017

London 7s: Eagles Fall To Scotland In Semis

A try with no time left on the clock pushed Scotland past the United States in what was a thrilling semi-final encounter at the London 7s. It was a match of two very even teams but with Scotland having much more of the possession were able to come away with the final try. The U.S. will now either play England or Canada in the bronze medal match.

Scotland have been one of the form teams the last two weeks and they've done it by cycling the ball quickly and simply not trying to do too much. That was evident early, especially on defense as the Eagles tried but weren't able to make much happen. When they did spring Perry Baker on the outside he was put into touch but a very organized defense.

The U.S. played strong defense of their own coming up with a couple of crucial plays. Like Scotland, that defense would turn into offense. The first big opportunity for either team came after Andrew Durutalo made a big run and superb offload to Ben Pinkelman. However, he was tackled and pushed into touch about a foot shore of the try line.

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Just when it looked like neither team was going to be able to notch a try before the half each was able to turn it on. First it was Scotland as they finally found a gap in the defense when the Eagles bit on defense. Soon after the Eagles were finally able to find Perry Baker some space. At halftime it was 7-7.

The Eagles came out attacking early in the second half and nearly had a try through Folau Niua. Unfortunately for him he spent too much time concentrating on the fendoff leaving the ball exposed. The Scottish player was able to knock it loose for a knock-on. That moment proved to be decisive as it cost the Eagles the opportunity to take their first lead.

Scotland had the bulk of the possession in the match and often looked to take advantage. The U.S. did their best defensively to stop them, including a memorable poach from Martin Iosefo, but the U.S. weren't able to keep Scotland out for a long. After the Scots put in a chip over the defense they were able to recover and a few cycles later score in the corner. The difficult conversion was good and they now led 14-7 with not much time left.

The Eagles responded immediately. Iosefo was able to suck in the defense to give Baker just enough space to round the outside and coast in for a try under the posts. With time for one last play it was knotted up at 14-14.

The match came down to the restart and although the U.S. nearly won the ball back Scotland was able to recover. Aided by a mystery call from the assistant referee Scotland put the U.S. on the back foot and scored with no time left to take the win and a spot in the final.

The next match for the U.S. will be at 12:32 p.m. et/9:32 a.m. pt. 

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