Monday, February 5, 2018

Hamilton 7s: Eagles Win Challenge Trophy

It wasn't what they wanted to achieve overall but the U.S. will head home from the Hamilton 7s with the Challenge Trophy and eight points. The U.S. will be disappointed they weren't able to pick up more points in the standings, especially given their form on day two, but now they have to regroup and ready for Vegas.

Eagles 31-12 Argentina

Taking inspiration from the victory the 15s team had a few hours earlier the Eagles were able to thoroughly beat Argentina to claim the Challenge Trophy.  Danny Barrett nearly got on the scorer's table less than 20 seconds in the match when scooped up the ball on a hectic sequence and made it within five meters. Still, it was a sign of things to come just a minute later as staying patient the U.S. found Barrett on the wing who ran over his defender for the score. Barrett then had another. Restarts were the bread and butter of the U.S. all weekend and even when the recovery wasn't smooth the U.S. still had an advantage and it was with that advantage that Barrett made Argentina pay.

Argentina didn't help their cause when they were reduced to six men after being judged to have taken out a man in the air. Fortunately for the Argentines they were able to successfully wear down the clock and go back to full strength. Now with numbers they scored their first try of the match.

Take the jump to read more.

Like they had done throughout most of the day the U.S. rolled in the second half. It was Perry Baker's speed to starting things in the second half. That try was his 150th on the Series. Moments later a steal from Baker put the U.S. on the attack again and when Folau Niua slipped out of the defense he was in for the score. Even when Argentina were able to score another try there wasn't really enough time left to scare the Eagles. Ben Pinkelman scored the last try for the Eagles. 

TIAR is currently holding a pledge drive. If you liked what you read consider a donation.

Eagles 42-12 Papua New Guinea

To reach the Challenge Trophy final the U.S. had to get through an improving Papua New Guinea side. PNG looked strong in the quarterfinals with a big win over France. They, along with the like of Uganda and Hong Kong could easily find themselves on the series if they can get more tournaments under their belts. Unfortunately for them they were outmatched against the Eagles.  Straight from the outset the Eagles were on the attack and nearly scored a minute in. Eventually they opened the score with Kevon Williams crossing over. It helped that PNG had a man sent into the bin. Perry Baker and Williams again had tries to end the half. Williams especially came on and did well. He was asked to fill in at scrumhalf and did well.

The U.S. kept coming after the break. Matai Letua scored less than thirty seconds into the second half. That opened the scoring to 28-0. Martin Iosefo the scored as the U.S. won the restart and PNG was out of shape defensively.  PNG did finish off with a couple of tries while the U.S. had one last effort from Carlin Isles.

Eagles 29-12 Spain

First up on the day was Spain. The Spanish are new core team members this year and while they have put together some good play it was a match the U.S. were always likely to dominate. Although Spain were aggressive early the U.S. defense was more than up to the task in limiting the real danger. Soon defense turned into offense as some great passing, started by a great decision from Folau Niua to switch the ball, eventually led to Martin Iosefo opening the scoring. Still, Spain weren't going away. Taking advantage of sloppy ball on both teams Spain were able to find a gap and go in for the try. They made the conversion to lead 7-5.  Not to be denied the Eagles retook the lead just before halftime. Niua was at the center of it again with a turnover win at the breakdown and from there it was just a quick shift out to Baker who did the rest. At the break it was 12-7 to the Eagles.

In the second half the U.S. corrected some of their errors from the first half and took total control. It began with another Baker try and continued with Danny Barrett taking the restart, running over the defense, and scoring in the corner. Spain did pick one more try but the U.S. finished things off via Carlin Isles.

While the U.S. will certainly be happy they finished day two with three straight wins and a maximum of obtainable point they will no doubt look back at Hamilton and wonder what could have been. Had they been able hold on and beat or draw with Samoa or beat Kenya it could have been a different story. Intead, the U.S. are still trying to recapture the form they had last season where they made the top four for what seemed like every tournament. Heading home to the Vegas 7s is certainly a big help and maybe it can give them momentum to finish out the rest of the year. 

1 comment:

  1. Is it possible to get better updates from the USA team on injuries?
    Like specifically, Hughes and Tomasin? With those two missing from the squad, it is missing the patience and skill at there respective positions. Will they return for the LasVegas tourney?