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Saturday, May 20, 2017

London 7s: Eagles Finally Beat South Africa


All year the Eagles have come up against South Africa at key stages of tournaments and each time they have come up empty. Well, no longer as the Eagles beat the Blitzbokke 24-12 to top their pool at the London 7s. The U.S. got some breathing room before the match when Kenya beat Wales. That meant that rather than having to beat South Africa all the U.S. had to do was avoid losing by 27 points. That was always going to happen and in the end they did themselves even better to exorcise some demons and come away with the win.

The Eagles dug deep to win the match relying on some outstanding defense at times. One of those situations was early on when Steve Tomasin made a try saving tackle to keep the score blank. With the score still at 0-0 the Eagles went on the attack and were rewarded when Hughes latched on to a Tomasin offload for the score. With the conversion the Eagles led 7-0.

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South Africa is South Africa and with even a drop of space they will make you pay. That is exactly what happened as they put in a chip over the defense to tie the score at 7-7. Still, the U.S. didn't quit. With possession he shrugged off two defenders and stretched over a third to give the U.S. a 12-7 lead at halftime.

To start the second half South Africa were right back at it with their second try to knot the score at 12-12. But that was all that they would get. Perry Baker hadn't been able to get much going all day until he found just a little bit of space to run through the South African defense for the try. Crucially that put the Eagles up 17-12 with not much time left. Andrew Durutalo did a great job to shake off his defender to score a try that would seal the win.

Overall, it was a great rebound for the Eagles after a very bad performance against Wales. They have now topped their group and have a good chance of making the top four once again tomorrow. The U.S. will play Australia at 5:58 a.m. et/2:58 a.m. pt early tomorrow morning. 

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