Sunday, March 4, 2018

Vegas 7s: Electric Eagles Beat Fiji, Advance To Final

Photo: Connie Hatfield
The Eagles continued their electric play at the Vegas 7s with a 19-7 win over Fiji to advance to the final. This was some of the best rugby the Eagles have ever played and with a home crowd behind them they are playing with an energy that is taking them over the top. In many ways this tournament is extremely reminiscent of when the Eagles won the London 7s. The players are carrying themselves with a positive swagger and they are winning all the small battles. Up next the Eagles will be looking for glory against Argentina.

The match didn't start with the Eagles on the front foot. Instead, it was Fiji that had the best early chance. From a scrum Fiji were able to find one of their speedsters on the wing but he wasn't quick enough for Perry Baker as he tracked the Fijian down and put him into touch at the five meter line. The game was played a good intensity early but neither team was able to take advantage. That changed with a minute and half left when Fiji were finally able to score. They had pinned the U.S. back in the territory battle even if the U.S. had more of the possession. Staying patient a Fijian player fended off the U.S. defense and ran in the rest of the way for a try.  At the half Fiji led 7-0.

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The match turned in the second half as the Eagles turned it on. Pinned down on their own try line the U.S. found Perry Baker for what would be a special try. Baker was able to dance around three Fijian defenders before finding space and outrunning the rest of the Fijian team for an electric try. It was the first time the U.S. had been able to successful find Baker on the day and it paid immediate dividends.

Following the try the U.S. did very well to keep the pressure on. Soon Fiji would break as they had a man sent to the bin for intentionally knocking down the ball. With the advantage the U.S. ran a set play that led to Matai Leuta scoring. Credit should go to Folau Niua who did a fantastic job of sucking in the defense to create even more space.

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Now up 14-7 the Eagles were cooking. Still, the game hung in the balance as Fiji always looked threatening. The turning point for the U.S. came when Ben Pinkelman made a fantastic steal. That led to some give and go from Niua, Martin Iosefo, and Baker who then scored in the corner. From there the U.S. defense took care of business as they were able to starve Fiji of the ball and hold on for the win.

Overall there were some huge performances from players like Maka Unufe, who went down injured, Baker, Iosefo, Pinkelman, and Niua. If they can play like that in the final they could win glory in front of their home crowd.

The U.S. will play Argentina at 7:30 p.m. et/4:30 p.m. pt.

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff again guys, and thanks! This is my go-to place for real and up-to-date info on all things USA rugby. The official site, or their twitter feed? No info at all, except for a bunch of stupid gifs. The IRB sevens site? A horrid mess trying to navigate, and so crammed with useless and old video stuff, not even the live scoreline will update as a match goes on.
    Thanks a ton, all of you at TIAR.