Cape Town, SA – The second leg of the 2018/2019 Men’s Sevens World Series is in the books. The opening leg in Dubai and this most recent leg in South Africa count as the Africa swing of the circuit. This swing of the tour has been the best back to back weekends in tour history for the USA. The @Eagles7s had another great tournament as they finished 2nd… Losing the final to the Flying Fijians.
Americans claim silver:
The Eagles had a awesome first day followed by an really good second day. Day one was filled with beating teams they should beat and day two was about beating teams they would have been expected to lose too last year. They went undefeated on day one, 3-0, and their first lost of the tournament was in the final. Considering how they are notoriously slow starters, @Eagles7s have achieved a start that is beyond the dreams of their fans.
In their opening pool match win over Japan, the USA showed no mercy to a clearly over-match Japan side.. The USA looked ready to send a message in the game as they were scoring tries one after another, starving Japan of possession on their way to a 35-0 lead at the half. They didn’t slow down in second either as they continued to pour it on in the 2nd half, with a final tally of 7 different players scoring 8 tries, led by Stephen Tomasin who scored two tries and kicked 6 conversions, on the way to a 54-0 win. The next match was against Spain who they romped over in Dubai but was coming off a big upset of Argentina, so had to be take seriously. The @Eagles7s didn’t look as sharp in the first half of the match-up as looked against Japan though that could be down to a more competitive opponent. The USA scored first before Spain scored twice and then the USA scored a second converted try to go into halftime up 14-12. Head coach Mike Friday, lit a fire under the troops at halftime and the Eagles started the second half like a house on fire. Of the second half kickoff, the USA won the ball and turned it into a try for Perry Baker, Danny Barrett rumbled over for a try, Tomasin scored his second try for a second consecutive tournament then for good measure Carlin Isles dotted before new minted Eagle try, Maceo Brown scored his very first World Series try to close the game at 38-17 for the USA. The final pool match for the Eagles was against a desperate Argentina. This was the teams first meeting since Argentina dominated the USA to win 5th place at the Rugby World Cup 7s earlier this year. The match started out a bit like the Spain game with the USA scoring first then losing focus for Argentina to score two tries. That was how the first half ended with the USA down 7-14. Once again straight after the halftime team talk the USA got on the scoreboard courtesy of captain Madison Hughes, followed by tries to Martin Iosefo, Matai Leuta and the incomparable Perry Baker as the USA won 31-14.
The USA was in Cup playoffs and when laid out in advance, it appeared to be a murderer’s row of a challenge. The USA would have to go through England, New Zealand or Australia and Fiji or South Africa. The USA once gain handed the opponent the opponent the initiative by giving Englad a try off the kickoff. Then the USA tied it up with a perfectly waited grubber by Niua scooped up by Iosefo and off-loaded in the tackle to Hughes to tie up the game. Shortly before halftime, England struck again to go up 12-7. In the second half, if was English ill-discipline that would help the USA win the game. After an England penalty the USA won the lineout moved the ball from side to side before getting it to Danny Barrett to touch it down in the corner. Shortly after that score to tie the game, Barrett went over in the middle of the field after a penalty and won lineout by the USA again. The USA defense then help out for the 19-12 win. Now came the stiffest challenge. The USA was facing an All Black 7s side they lost to twice last weekend. However, the USA went in with a chip on their shoulder about their performance last week and the attitude of the All Blacks following the match. The Eagles did not give the All Blacks a minute to breathe as they came out, shot out of a cannon. The USA scored 3 unanswered tries in the first half being patient and exploiting the opposition at just the right opportunity to go into halftime up 17-0. In the second half the All Blacks tried to climb back into the match but the Eagles refused to let them. The All Blacks got the first score of the second half but then the USA shut the door with two more tries before giving up a consolation try at the end of the game, USA won 31-12. Once again the USA spread the ball around with Isles, Barrett (with arguably the try of the tournament), Tomasin, Iosefo and Baker all dotting down in the big win. The win put the USA in the final against the Flying Fijians 7s. The USA had actually secured first place on the series by making back to back finals, however, they were looking for a cup. Unfortunately just as the USA had a point to prove against New Zealand, the Fijians had a point to prove after losing the quarterfinal in Dubai to the USA. The USA actually maintained possession better and made more passes in the first half but the Fijians pounced on turnovers like an intercept or stolen line-out to score breakaway tries and lead 17-0 at the half. The USA would get on the scoreboard in the second and played much better and more competitively, scoring 3 tries to win the second half 15-12, but they dug too deep a hole in the first half and ended up losing 15-29. The USA is now ranked higher than it ever has before, first place, and has made back to back finals for the first time ever.
Fantastic Fijians Win It All:
Last week it was New Zealand winning for the first time in Dubai since 2009 and this week it is Fiji winning the South Africa leg for the first time since, you guessed it, 2009. The Fijians won Day 1 easily but it took them until late to beat hosts South Africa. After that they were able to win against the USA and claim second in the standing. This is shaping up to be the most competitive season in series history.. In third place, South Africa was able to win Bronze and give their fans something to cheer about as they celebrated the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela in the country.
England defeated Spain to claim fifth, and though they lost, finishing sixth was a major accomplishment for the Spaniards. Argentina were able to shake off a poor day of pool play to win a tough match against Samoa to claim the Challenge Trophy.
Final standings were:
Third: South Africa
Challenge Trophy: Argentina
That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below.
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