Sunday, November 5, 2017

Australia Beat U.S., Win Silicon Valley 7s

After a strong tournament the Eagles couldn't complete the job and fell to Australia 15-12 in the Cup final at the Silicon Valley 7s. While disappointing for the Eagles they did gain plenty of information heading into Dubai.

First blood went to the Eagles but not without work. Strong defense, especially making some last minute tackles, from the Eagles gave them the ball and they spent the next few minutes trying to breakdown the Australian defense. They probed several times but continued to come up short until they finally found space on the outside for Ben Pinkelman to score. Folau Niua missed the makeable conversion but the U.S. were up 5-0.

The U.S. got the second try as well. It was Steve Tomasin who picked up the honors after showing his deceptive speed on the outside. He also has been a major leader throughout the weekend. He's playmaking ability is approaching elite status and a major help to the Eagles. Still, it wasn't all rosy for the Americans as Australia scored after the halftime hooter to cut the deficit to 12-5.

It was Australia that got on the board first in the second half. Simple cross-field passing got the job done as they found the Eagles overloaded on one side. However, it came in the corner so the conversion was unsuccessful and the Eagles led 12-10.

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The aspect that nearly won the game for the Eagles but ultimately cost them was the ability to milk the clock in the second half. Multiple times the team was able to take a good chunk of time by playing for the sideline or taking their time on a penalty. None of that mattered, however, when Australia would take advantage of the U.S. having too many men trying to win the ball at the breakdown and were able to race down the sideline for the score. The conversion was off but they led 15-12.  The Eagles kept the ball on the restart but strong work from Australia at the breakdown led to them creating a turnover and kicking it out for the win.

The Eagles certainly had their chances in the match and had Kevon Williams been able to keep his feet close to the tryline they could have reversed the result. While disappointing the goal of the tournament was to see how some players, who are borderline on the making the first team, perform under pressure. Some players responded, especially Joe Schroeder. Others could have done better but heading into Dubai at the beginning of next month head coach Mike Friday will have a better idea of what he's working with.

All weekend there has been an expectation that at some point Chile wouldn't play they way they have in their previous matches. Every time that hasn't happened. Full credit to the Chileans who played some excellent rugby over the weekend but it wasn't to be against England losing 31-12 in the 3rd place match. They scored first against England before England took a 7-5 lead. The match turned when Chile had a man sent to the bin. England exploited the advantage to lead 12-5 at halftime. England scored a try within the first minute of the second half and that opened it up for multiple second half tries.

It was an all-Pacific Islander match-up in the 5th place match. Fiji and Samoa have both had their moments over the weekend with Samoa having the better day one. They also had the better of the action early with a try to go up 5-0.  Things would continue to be back and forth with some high stakes rugby that didn't pay off for either team until the end of the half when Samoa would get their second try and a 12-0 lead. Samoa increased the lead and essentially put the match out of reach with a third try a couple of minutes into the second half. Fiji would mount a small comeback but would fall 26-14.

New Zealand won the 7th place match after beating Japan 26-5. They were up 19-0 at halftime.

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