LAS VEGAS, NV – The fifth leg of the 2016/2017 World Rugby HSBC Men’s Sevens Series was arguably the most enjoyable round yet. The @Eagles7s were an extra joy to watch, with a second consecutive impressive performance… at home this time. Meanwhile, South Africa’s @BlitzBokke remained unstoppable, as they made their fifth straight final and won it for the fourth time.
@Eagles7s Terrific display:
In my tournament preview, we discussed the Eagles 7s possibly using the home field momentum and winning it all. They didn’t win it all but they got close and took a major scalp in the process. They opened by smashing past a Samoa side that is very dangerous on their day, 26-5. They then drew the interlopers of the tournament Chile. As expected, the match was one-way traffic as the USA never left second gear to win 31-0. In their third and final pool match, the USA drew England. It was a tough match but for all intents and purposes England’s scalp was there for the taking. The ref gave a generous amount of extra time and despite the USA being up, 17-5 in the 13th minute, England scored in the 15th, 17th and 18th minute to win the match 24-17.
The knock-out stages began with the Eagles drawing Argentina. The match was arguably one of the most intense and tightest of the weekend. This time however, the USA would turn out the victorious side in a tight affair, roaring back from 19 points down, to win 21-19. The Eagles’ reward was the toughest challenge in 7s rugby this season, stopping the Blitzbokke.
A sign that the Eagles have moved from strength-to-strength is how they challenge every top 4 opponent. Despite scoring one of the Tries of the Tournament, the USA still came up short in the small areas of the game that matter, as they lost 20-17. The loss left the Eagles in a battle for third place against the All Black 7s. Their continued fearless nature paid off as they won, 19-15 in a close match. The Bronze is not a bad finish, considering all of the teams currently above the rope.
Scintillating South Africa:
The Blitzbokke could actually be declared tournament winners in the next stop or two. With their current success, it is hard to know how much is athlete and how much is coach. In the knockout round they faced Australia, USA and Fiji – all very hungry and unofficial members of the chasing pack. South Africa equaled their opposition’s intensity and their fans roared their approval. It’s tough combo to beat.
With the west coast of the USA having a heavily Polynesian presence, the fans that show up to Vegas provide huge support for Fiji and other Pacific Islands. With that in mind, sides like Fiji can get a quasi-home town boost. New Zealand managed to find enough form to suggest they could win it all before they lost semi-final and final. The 5th place team contest saw England win it comfortably… The Challenge Trophy was a match between squads with terrific fans, and the Kenyans and Samoas put on a fantastic display. Kenya finally won.
Cup: South Africa
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