Friday, March 2, 2018

Vegas 7s: Eagles Sweep Past Samoa & Australia

Photo: Connie Hatfield
The Eagles are sitting in an excellent position after day one of the Vegas 7s. Fans had every right to be nervous heading into the day as the U.S. hasn't always had the results they wanted against both Samoa and Australia this year but in the end the home crowd fueled the Eagles to two very solid results. Now the team will take on Spain tomorrow in what should help them claim the pool. A loss to Spain and a crazy result between Samoa and Australia tomorrow could cause the Eagles to fall out but it does not seem likely. If the Eagles do beat Spain they will make the Cup quarterfinals once again.

Eagles 26-12 Samoa

Signaling the bright start of the day was a try just over a minute into the match. It started with Baker sucking in the defense on one side of the pitch and from there it was simply flung across the pitch quickly where Danny Barrett barreled over the defense for the score. Unfortunately the good vibes didn't last long as Samoa cut through the middle of the pitch to get one try back. Samoa's conversion was the difference as they led 7-5 with three minutes left in the half.

The match would continue to seesaw with the Eagles striking back once again. This time it was Martin Iosefo that finished things off. The U.S. passing was particularly crisp in the first half and they dominated possession. With less than a minute to go in the half the U.S. had 20 completed passes while Samoa had one. That possession led to one last try for the Eagles in the half. From a penalty the U.S. showed patience to find Barrett on the wing for the score. At the break the U.S. led 19-7.

Take the jump to read more.
Samoa didn't help themselves fourteen seconds into the second half as a player was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Danny Barrett. Despite being up a man the Eagles weren't able to take advantage. They were close but Perry Baker couldn't handle the pass.

The second half was much more of a bruising affair than the first as the action slowed down. It took a lot of hard work, and some special footwork from Maka Unufe, but the U.S. eventually scored their final try with Ben Pinkelman powering over. Samoa scored a final try to end the match.

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Eagles 28-7 Australia

Arguably the match that should have made the fans the most nervous was the Australia match. In the end the Eagles had little troubles as they would go on to the comfortable win. The highlight of the match was this work from Iosefo: 
The Eagles had a dominance of possession in the match and once again it led to an early try. Perry Baker was largely silent against Samoa as the big bruisers did the work but against Australia he was involved early as he received a slip pass that put him in clear for the try.

Defensively the U.S. were also strong. Iosefo was strong at the breakdown and the restarts were working well to help keep possession. When they had the ball they were clinical in their offloads. That was especially true on a sweet offload from Maka Unufe that found Iosefo for another try. He would add his second on that highlight you see above.

The U.S. would put the final touches on the blowout with an electric Perry Baker try a couple of minutes into the second half. Once again it came from the middle of the pitch. Teams seem to have figured out a way to somewhat contain Baker on the wing so it's awesome to see the Eagles find a solution in the middle of the pitch. Australia scored one try in the second half.

Up next is Spain at 4:04 p.m. et/1:04 p.m. pt on Saturday.

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