DUBAI, UAE – It was the first tournament of the season and it is a bit early to infer too much but there is already things to look out for. For the USA, it appears this team is not afraid of big moments and given an opportunity they will make the most of it. For the rest of the world, Fiji are making it clear that now, more than ever, you will have to be at your best if you have any hope of taking them down.
American seizing the moment:
The Eagles 7s had their best performance in Dubai ever and the highest finish they have ever had after the first tournament of the 7s series. The Eagles went 2-1 on both days but it was who they beat that caught everyone’s attention. On day one, the USA easily defeated Portugal and then they had a shock loss to France due to a few too many errors. It looked like they The USA was going to underachieve once again. It was then they had their biggest in recent history, London 7s included, as Perry Baker scored in extra time after the second half hooter to defeat New Zealand. Team captain Madison Hughes made a huge 30 meter conversion kick, 10 meters from touch to give the USA the win. This was the first time the USA had ever recorded a win against New Zealand. The win got the USA into the cup playoffs courtesy of a greater point differential than France.
The second day began with an even bigger victory, if that was possible. The USA came back from a 12 point defeat courtesy of yellow card against South Africa to win and qualify for the semi-final. In the semi-final, the USA looked to have forced overtime before a tight call after the the second half hooter had sounded, made the difference. It was going to be a not releasing the ball call against an England attacker until Carlin Isles was deemed offside in the play. A quick tap and go from England saw them score a try and win the match. The USA fell into the 3rd place game against New Zealand. With New Zealand decimated by injuries, they only had 6 healthy bodies to start the match, which they finished with 5 as the USA won with ease.
For a pessimist, or Tom Clayman view point, the USA was lucky against New Zealand the first time and faced an injury decimated All Blacks 7s the second time. They also got lucky that South Africa got a yellow card allowing them back into the game. However, doesn’t a man make his own luck? If luck is preparation and hard work meeting opportunity then full credit to the USA. You can say, they were unlucky against France but they were given opportunities against SA, NZ and England and took all of them nearly making the final. At RWU, that is how we prefer to look at it.
Fantastic Flying Fijians:
It was the Jerry Tuwai and friends show for Fiji in Dubai. The Fijians were in full flight and could not be stopped on either day. Led by Tuwai they cut through all the competition and always looked up for the challenge. Being the defending series champions, every team took their game up a level but the Fijians seem able to match each opponent and take their game up a level too. On day two they had to defeat Australia, New Zealand and England to win the title which was no easy task but they made it look far from difficult.
After suffering the heart breaking loss to the USA, South Africa bounced back to win the Plate. They were able to bounce back and keep their discipline to beat Argentina and Australia. The Australia match was another match that wasn’t decided until the final whistle as a last gasp try by scrum-half Derrick Hougaard was what it took for the Blitzbokke to secure a win.
France’s only loss of the tournament was their second game defeat to New Zealand. That loss and the late USA victory relegated them to the Bowl playoffs. Unfazed by that they kept their sizzling form and won all three matches with relative comfort to secure the Bowl. The Canadians lost all three games on day one and the first one on day two were able to leave on a positive note as they won their last two matches to walk away with the Shield.
Final standings will be
Plate: South Africa
The next leg will be fast upon us in South Africa this upcoming weekend. Stay tuned to RWU for another preview and review of the tournament.
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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.