CAPE TOWN, RSA – In the second leg of the 2016/2017 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, we were witness to some incredible action and breathtaking rugby. For the @Eagles7s, it seems that the team is improving and building toward their goal of a top 5 finish. For the rest of the world, England had a surprise for the on-lookers, as they caused an upset.
The Eagles had a decent performance in Dubai but they looked better in Cape Town. They went into the tournament being coached by Assistant Head Coach Chris Brown, with head coach Mike Friday away on 15s duty as 15s attack coach. It has been a progression for Brown who has been Friday’s right hand-man since Kenya and has built on his experience as a strength and fitness coach to become an up and coming coach of his right.
The Eagles went 2-3 and though it was a disappointing overall result, there were a lot of positives. On Day One, the Eagles rode their early luck as Australia couldn’t convert pressure. A combination of USA defense and Aussie mistakes allowed the USA to stay in the game when it was 0-0. Then the American attack got going, leading to a surprising 19-0 shutout of the Aussies. Next, the Eagles drew hosts and Dubai winners, South Africa. The USA fought hard but as usual it came down to the finer points. The Eagles could not play the mistake-free rugby needed to defeat the Blitzbokke, who punished their miscues. Going into the final pool game the USA needed to beat Russia to qualify for the Cup playoffs. They did that, bouncing back from their South Africa loss and showing mettle in beating the Russian Bears.
Day Two began with very tough loss for the Eagles. They took on the ever-improving Scottish. In a match that the Eagles led toward the closing minutes, Scotland scored a late try to force extra time. In overtime, the Scots capitalized on a USA turnover and scored the winner. This knocked the Eagles into a battle for 5th place. Unfortunately they would draw a Fiji side spitting nails after losing to England in their quarterfinal. Fired-up Fiji won comfortably.
But all wasn’t lost as the Eagles finished better in Cape Town than Dubai. Hopefully they will continue to take steps forward and make the Cup semi-final in Wellington.
England is a tough team to figure out. They made it to the Olympic final as Great Britain, and as a whole they have a very tricky habit of winning ugly. The English don’t have the kind of dominating displays that Fiji or New Zealand do but they always manage. They actually beat up on Canada, were lucky to survive Argentina and lost to the All Black 7s in pool play. They then went on to outlast Fiji and comfortably beat Scotland before spoiling the party for the hosts and winning the cup, 19-17.
South Africa looked good over the two days but they finally ran out of gas against the English… New Zealand bounced back from their lost to SA to defeat Scotland in the third place match… Continuing their improvement from last week, Kenya managed to make the 5th place final a very interesting fight with the Fijians, before the latter pulled away… France beat Argentina comfortably to claim the Challenge Trophy.
Final standings will be
Second: South Africa
Third: New Zealand
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And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.