Electric Eagles smoke Kenya in day one closer
USA v. Australia - 5:42 a.m. MDT
A strong first half in the opening Pool A match of the Glasgow Sevens saw the Eagles chucking it around with swagger, backing themselves in contact, and pinning their ears back to finish two long range breaks. The two Australia tries were fairly soft and came rom restarts. Regardless, up 14-12 at the half, the Eagles looked like the team everyone knows they can be. Then the second half happened.
A knock on and lack of execution deep in the red zone by the USA gifted Australia not only a 'get out of jail free' card, but they broke out for a 95 meter run to score. That was the momentum shift in the game and despite a high work rate by the Eagles, Australia capitalized on two more turnovers in the last 90 seconds to run away with the win.
A 29-14 score line may imply a blowout, but the Australians would be the first to tell you that the USA could have won that game.
USA v. England - 9:10 a.m. MDT
The Eagles looked sharp against a very strong English side in their second Pool A match of the day but arguably left another 'W' on the table due in party to a defensive lapse in the last minute of play, allowing English flyer Mat Turner to score and eventually go up by a converted try (19-12) with only 20 seconds to go and there the score would remain.
Two excellent tries by the USA by Colin Hawley, who has really come into his own since becoming a starter in March, and the pace man Rocco Mauer got the Eagles' tails up and they were looking very threatening. Captain Shalom Suniula played well and is leading the team with authority, although he'll undoubtedly be beating himself up about throwing an errant pass that ultimately ended the Eagles chance at tying the game. The USA still would have had a lot of work to do if the pass went to hand, but that is what makes Suniula a great player and leader: he demands excellence from himself and his teammates.
You can't look to that one act though as the cause for the loss as the Eagles defense needs some shoring up. It doesn't seem to be the defensive system that is suspect, but rather a commitment to the tackle that hurt the Eagles.
USA v. Kenya 11:15 a.m. MDT
The Eagles came out firing against Kenya to end their Pool A encounters on day one. Veteran Mike Palefau collected a nice offload from Colin Hawley and streaked 70 meters for a nice score. That set the tone for the eventual 29-14 victory for the USA.
Andrew Durutalo got into the corner, showing great finishing ability for a big fella and Nu'u Punimata made every coach he's ever had proud as he played to the whistle and caught the Kenyan defense off guard as they waited for the ref to call a knock on that never happened. Punimata streaked for 50 meters and got five for this team.
Rocco Mauer used his pace to turn the corner on the outside Kenyan defenders. The first ocassion was pure speed and angled running, the second was acceleration. Mauer got the ball with two defender in front of him, got tripped up by one, got back to his feet and in two or three steps was at full speed and well out of reach of any Kenyan on the field.
The Eagles play Russia tomorrow (May 6) in the Bowl Quarterfinals that will kick off at 3:30 a.m. MDT/5:30 EDT and will be shown live on UniversalSports.com.
Tries: Niua, Hawley
Cons: Niua (2)
Tries: Lucas, Parahi, Walker, Foley, Rasolea
Cons: Lucas (2)
Tries: Hawley, Mauer
Tries: Mitchell, Rodwell, Turner
Cons: Mitchell (2)
Tries: Palefau, Durutalo, Punimata, Mauer (2)
Cons: Niua (2)
Tries: Ayange, Ashioya
Cons: Asego (2)