SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – The 2018/2019 HSBC Men’s Sevens Series rolls on and its latest stop is the east coast Australia, and the beautiful city of Sydney. of first tournament of 2019. Sydney is the only stop other than Dubai that has the men and women share the stage. This means we will be in for a massive party and fantastic turnout. Let’s take a look at the @Eagles7s team and take a stab at predicting the tournament.
The USA currently sit first in the world, tied with Fiji but lets not kill the vibe with facts. The USA has made the final in the first three tournaments. That high level of consistency is why there are number 1. They have 7 legs to go to keep doing what their doing if they hope to finish 1st in the world. With that said, lets take a look at the three main issues that stand out into this tournament.
1) Team changes (+/-): There are .5 changes to the USA squad from Hamilton. Perry Baker is not with the squad as he fractured his jaw in the first game in Hamilton so he was flown back to the USA for surgery. That moved Anthony Welmers, the travelling reserve into the squad.
2) Team Effort: No Perry Baker means everyone will have to chip in more than usual and more patience will have to be shown as there is no get out of jail free card when things get stale in attack.
3) Carlin Isles: With no Baker, Isles is now the only home run hitter in the squad. However, he is a different type of player to Baker so he has to stay within his game and pick and choose his moments. Head Coach Mike Friday is going to have to be careful rotating Isles as he will need to be fresh towards the later rounds.
Optimist’s View: They make out of the group but stumble in the semi-final and finish third after playing well but losing in a tight semi-final match.
Pessimist’s View: They stumble in the quarterfinal before the get it back together and finish 5th
My View: I see the USA making the semi-finals but losing the semi-finals and the 3rd place match to finish 4th.
The USA is making a statement that they are now entering the top tier. This is key because it is looking like a down year for South Africa and England. This means it may just be the USA, Fiji and New Zealand battling it out for honors. Lets look at the pools and see who will make it through and if that helps clear up the picture.
Here are the Pool Preview
Fiji should win this group. They will get a good workout from both England and Samoa but they should still be able to top the group. The real battle will be for second place. Last week the smart money was on England topping Samoa to finish second in the pool but Samoa managed an upset and won second. This time out, England will be motivated for revenge so they are my bet to win second with Samoa third. Japan w are outmatched in this pool and will finish last.
USA should have no problem winning this group. They may face a stern test from Canada but this is their group to lose. Canada are a safe bet to come in second in this group. The reason why the USA and Canada are the best bets is because Kenya is play 5 players who made their debut last week and France is missing key players including their first choice captain. With all that information it is easy to see who finishes first and second. I pick Kenya to be third because I like them playing the kids. France will be last.
I can be sure that New Zealand will win the pool. It will be a dog fight between Spain and Scotland. Both sides have surprised and qualified for the cup playoffs in the previous rounds. I think Spain are due this time out, so that means Scotland will finish 3rd. This leaves Wales to finish up fourth.
It was easy to pick that the winner of the group will be South Africa. Australia are the hosts so they will sail though and claim second. This leaves an Argentina side that has been struggling to play better will finish third and Tonga will come in last.
Final standings will be:
Third: New Zealand
Challenge Trophy: Samoa
That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below.
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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.