HAMILTON, NZ – The third leg of the 2018/2019 Men’s Sevens World Series is in the books. The Australasian swing of the tour started of as exciting as the Mideastern/Africa swing and equally successful for the @Eagles7s. They had another great tournament as they finished 2nd… Losing the final to the Flying Fijians.
Americans claim silver, again:
The Eagles had a fantastic first day followed by an great second day, all things considered. I say all things considered because in the first match on the first day, the USA lost the reigning back to back 7s world player of the year, Perry Baker. Despite that big loss the USA managed to go undefeated on day one against some tough opponents and their first lost of the tournament was in the final. @Eagles7s are setting a new standard for themselves.
In their opening pool match win over Tonga, the USA had a very dominant performance. It was somewhat a slow start from the USA as they traded tries with Tonga to open the match. It made it seem like the match was gonna be a tussle. However, it wasn’t because the USA went on to score 22 unanswered points to win 29-7. The biggest part of the game was towards the end when Perry Baker classed heads with a Tongan defender and fractured his jaw in two places. Baker was flown out the following day for surgery in the USA. He will definitely miss Sydney and is a question mark for Las Vegas and Vancouver as those will be in weeks 5 and 6 of what compose the 6 weeks needed to heal from a fractured jaw.
The second USA game of day was against Samoa. Playing Samoa in NZ and Australia is always a tough ask as those two countries are the main ports of call for people from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji when the immigrate. As such this these games are tougher as you are facing 4 home sides. Tonga is not a part of the circuit so they were not a massive challenge. However, the USA was going up against Samoa, who have own legs of the tour before and were fresh off defeated England. The match started off tense as Samoa kicked off the scoring. However, the USA didn’t fall into a trap against them. Courtesy of a Carlin Isles hat trick and tries by Madison Hughes and Martin Iosefo. Samoa scored to end the game but the final was 34-14 to the USA. The final match of the day was against England, who were coming in desperate for a win and a chance to qualify for the playoffs. The USA managed to not be unnerved and dominated the match. The USA scored first courtesy of Captain Madison Hughes. It was then a lot of back and forth before the USA scored again thanks to Stephen Tomasin and then finally Isles put the nail in the coffin to kill of any chance of a win for England. Though the English did score a consolation try to lose 19-7.
The USA was in Cup playoffs again with the inside track on making the semi-finals. All due respect to the USA’s quarterfinal opponents, Scotland, the USA were rightly favorites to advance. The USA did not disappoint but Scotland showed why they are known for the brave effort they put up in each match. The USA scored off the kickoff as Ben Pinkelman won the kickoff by Folau Nuia and dished to Madison Hughes who ran in a try. The US kickoff remained deadly as they recovered the ensuing one leading to a score by Tomasin and the recovered the kickoff from that try leading to a try by Isles. Scotland managed to get on the board just before halftime. Scotland would have a much better second half as they scored to close the gap to 5 points but just as they were closing on for the game-tying try, they got called for an off the ball penalty and the USA defense held out for the 19-14 win. Next up for the USA was the All Black 7s and it would be at home, if the task wasn’t tough enough already. However, the USA didn’t seem fazed and went in early on attack and despite some stout defending and a couple of penalties, the USA took the lead. The first half would be play in New Zealand territory as the USA dominated possession however and errant pass led to an intercept try for the All Blacks and put them ahead going into the half. The Eagles did not lose their heads as they continued to work hard in the second half and when an All Black made a mistake and got a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Tomasin, the Eagles pounced. Tomasin was the one to score moments late thanks to the man advantage. The USA then remained patient and waited for a moment to drive in the final nail. Isles spotted at a breakdown as the sniped from the base of a ruck and took it all the way to seal a 17-5 victory for the USA. The USA would face Fiji in the final. On the road to the final, Fiji blew past everyone they played so their said was more rested and fresh meanwhile the USA was in a scrap fight to end day 1 and in the playoffs. This seemed to make a difference in the final as there was nothing in the USA well to dig from and they became the latest victims of the Flying Fijians losing 38-0. The USA however remained number one in the world, tied with the Fijians.
Flying Fijians Win It All:
Same old song. The Fijians showed up in front of a “home” crowd and put on a clinic. I mean the were blind offloads, rugby balls being cared like loaves of bread and great support lines. All the things coaches want their kids to emulate except for some of the one hand ball carrying, maybe. The Fijians made light work of everyone and took the title and are now tied with the USA for the lead in the series. New Zealand like South Africa at the previous stop consoled themselves as hosts by winning third place.
Scotland defeated Samoa to claim fifth, and though they lost, sixth was the highest the Samoans have finished in a while. England were able to shake off a poor day of pool play to win against Kenya to claim the Challenge Trophy.
Final standings were:
Third: New Zealand
Challenge Trophy: England
That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below.
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