Saturday, March 3, 2018

Vegas 7s: Eagles Beat Spain To Make Quarterfinals

Photo: Connie Hatfield
After a strong day one in which they beat Samoa and Australia all the Eagles needed to do in order to assure them a spot in the quarterfinals at the Vegas 7s was beat Spain. The Europeans were the lowest ranked team on paper in theory it should have been an easy win for the Eagles. In the end that's what it turned out to be in a 28-17 win.

The Eagles started in the brightest fashion possible. It began with the team winning the restart. From there it was an initial run from Maka Unufe before the ball was recycled to Folau Niua who dummied multiple Spanish defenders for the try. Spain did come right back with a strong effort but like in the first day the U.S. defense came up strong to win a turnover. With that possession the Eagles were dangerous. Danny Barrett went on a 50 meter run before Joe Schroeder cleaned up the mess for the try. Like that the Eagles were rolling at 14-0.

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Full credit to Spain, Despite being down a couple of tries and facing a hostile U.S. crowd they stayed on the attack and had an opportunity with a couple of minutes left. The ball was kicked into the tryzone and the Spanish player was able to touch down the ball before Joe Schoerder had the chance. That cut the lead to 14-5. They then cut it to 12-5 with less than a minute to go in the half. Capitalizing on a spilled ball they went short side to get the Eagles on their heels leading to the try. 

Still, not to be outdone Maka Unufe, who has been fantastic so far, was able to slip through the defense to go the length of the pitch for the try. It was outstanding footwork that made that possible. The conversion put the U.S. up 21-12 at halftime.

In the second half neither team was able to get much going (although there was a really cool moment in which a miscommunication at the lineup led to Kevon Williams accidentally throwing the ball off the head of Malon Al-Jiboori. He recovered it to keep the play going.). Eventually Carlin Isles was able to get the U.S. going. It all happened because the U.S. were able to keep Spain pinned down in their own end. Isles converted his own try (a first for him) as the Eagles led 28-12. Spain were able to score one final try but by that time it was too late as the U.S. had the win in hand. 

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