Samoa sneaks by USA, Eagles go 1-2 in RSA
Friday December 9, 2011
USA v. England (5:21 a.m. ET)
A strong first half saw the scores level at halftime in the Eagles' opening Pool A clash of the South Africa Sevens. A lack of execution in England's 22 and sloppy play in the second half saw the game slip away with England run away with 19 unanswered points.
Zack Test's try on a loop move off of Matt Hawkins quickly negated momentum England had from their early score. The Eagles pinned the English back in their own half for the remainder of the half, but just failed to convert possession into points.
England resorted to the boot in the second half, relying on keeping the ball in the Eagles' half of the field. Miles Craigwell who did well to get back and cover, foiled a chip and chase from Marcus Watson. A strong tackle on Mike Palefau dislodged the ball and Watson fell on it for a try. Moments later, Mat Turner put in a chip behind the cover defense and collected for another quick try. Sloppy passing gave England a soft score with time ticking down as Nick Royle strolled into the try zone to finish the game.
Tries: Rodwell, Watson, Turner, Royle
Cons: Watson (2), Lewis-Pratt
USA v. Argentina (8:49 a.m. ET)
Argentina tried their best to put the Eagles under pressure, charging kickoffs and scoring on the opening plays in both the first and second halves. However, those two scores were the only two they managed against the Eagles. Three excellent tries gave the Eagles a 21-14 win over the Argentinians.
Augustine Migliore used his pace to go 80 meters to open the scoring. Mike Palefau got the Eagles back in it straight away, finishing a beautiful team try. Matt Hawkins stretched the field and passed to Test. Test cut in and offloaded to Shalom Suniula who ran a good angle and drew the defense with him. Palefau called for a switch and went in effortlessly for the score. The Eagles looked after the ball well and minimized turnovers in the first half.
Argentina struck early in the second half. A strong contest from the kickoff gave Argentina possession and a quick ruck set up a try on the outside as Gonzalo Gutierrez Taboada held the defense and sliced through a gap to finish. Matt Hawkins leveled the scores with three minutes to go, getting the ball on the wing. Hawkins showed that just because he's big doesn't mean he can't side step. He juked and fended his way to the goal line and scored directly under the posts. Folau Niua hit his second conversion of the game.
A frantic finish to the game saw the USA put together their best attack of the day. Mark Bokhoven offloaded in contact to Miles Craigwell who made 10 meters and popped off the deck to his captain, Shalom Suniula who was absolutely screaming onto the ball. A nice break opened the field up and Bokhoven ran a great support line, gathered the ball and scored under the posts.
Tries: Palefau, Hawkins, Bokhoven
Cons: Niua (3)
Tries: Migliore, Gutierrez Taboada
Cons: Gutierrez Taboada (2)
USA v. Samoa (11:26 a.m. ET)
Samoa snuck by the Eagles with a final score of 12-14 in the last encounter of the day for the USA. The Americans gave the Pacific Islanders a very hard fought game and one that Samoa was thankful to hold on to.
Afa Aiono put a massive fend on USA veteran Mark Bokhoven to score the first try of the match inside if a minute. Bokhoven atoned by making a dazzling break in midfield and nearly put Nick Edwards through for a try, but he was bulldogged by the Samoan defender.
Simaika Mikaele added another try two minutes later and the game seemed to be slipping away from the USA. They didn't panic and were rewarded with try before halftime as Edwards sniped through a gap and fended his way to the try zone with time almost expired in the first period. USA captain Shalom Suniula made a try-saving tackle just before halftime to keep it to a seven point ball game.
Matt Hawkins scored the potential equalizer in an almost identical try to his against Argentina earlier in the day. He stepped in, put in two strong fends and willed his way to five points, scoring in the far right corner. The conversion was tough for Suniula and the ball hit the left upright, inches away from equalizing the score.
A barrage of USA attacks were weathered by Samoa, who got a penalty with a minute to go and took their time kicking to touch. They simply secured possession (although Zack Test nearly stole it) at the lineout and waited for the siren to signal the end of the game.
Tries: Edwards, Hawkins
Tries: Aiono, Mikaele