United States goes 3-0 to win Pool C at Silicon Valley Sevens

Maka Unufe breakaways shine as Men's Eagles Sevens bring down Chile.  |    Jack Megaw

SAN JOSE, CA - Going into the final match of Day 1 at Silicon Valley Sevens, 2-0 dominant Chile had yet to allow a point to the opposition. The United States made quick work of that with a Maka Unufe try and eventual 29-21 victory to go 3-0 in Pool C.

"I'm reasonably happy with the performances on Day 1" said Men's Sevens Head Coach, Mike Friday, "Things we have been working on in pre-season are transferring onto the pitch from both sides of the ball."

Contrary to previous matches against Tonga and New Zealand, the Men's Eagles seized the early lead when Captain Ben Pinkelman forced a turnover off the opening kick off in the Chilean end. Driving the defense to the right flank, the US quickly moved the ball to the very other end of the pitch to find Kevon Williams waiting and Chile turned around. Williams would put the first points on the board. 

Man of the match, Maka Unufe began his stand out performance when he capitalized on a broken ruck, swiping the ball from Chilean possession and dashing for the line. Returning Sevens star Ryan Matyas followed close behind to pick up the late pass and dot down for a try. Niua followed with an of-the-goal-post conversion. 

Unufe wasn't finished however, gathering a quick pass from a United States line out and breaking loose down field. This time he would collect the points himself and the Eagles took a 17-0 lead going into halftime. 

Matters would intensify coming out of the break after Chile's frontman Felipe Brangier caught the American defense sleeping in the first :30 seconds. Brangier kept his small hot streak going about a minute after recovering the ensuing kick off, enduing a US knock on and again surprising the US defense with a quick try. Suddenly the lead had shrunk to 14-17 after an impressive side line conversion from Marcelo Torrealba.

Momentum would sway back in the US favor however after stand out rookie Joe Schroeder drove the ball into space finding none other than Maka Unufe at top speed through mid-field. A Chilean defender would catch Unufe around the 5-meter line, but after shaking the tackle, the US padded their lead. 

Newcomer Chris Mattina impressed with a try up the middle, bringing the US tally to 29. Keeping his eyes down field out of a scrum, Mattina dove for points in between the posts.

"The newer guys are getting a feel for what is needed and expected to survive at the international 7's level," continued Friday, "which is great learning as we move closer to Dubai and the start of the World Series."

Chile closed the match with a late score after expired time, however the US proved to be too much and finished the day 3-0 after a 29-21 victory. 

The United States now continues into Sunday play as the second seed behind Australia who also finished 3-0 with a point differential of 105. Thanks to a 47-0 opening victory over China, Japan will claim a seed in the quarterfinal after finishing 1-1-1 with a narrow point differential of 18, over an England 12. Despite the loss, Chile will also move into the quarterfinal thanks to a hot start early in the afternoon games. 

Coach Friday concluded, "We have to recognize that our defensive "one-on-one" tackling needs to improve significantly in Day 2. Too many times today we missed first up tackles which led to a points-against total of 40. I would say nine were system errors and all of which came from poor one-on-one tackle execution. This has to be a huge focus area of improvement for us as a group tomorrow whilst we build on the positivity's of our breakdown work and attacking continuity."

Sunday matches kick off at 11amPT tomorrow. Catch the match on the USA Sevens Facebook page LIVE.

USA Rugby Men's Sevens | Silicon Valley Sevens
1. Malon Al-Jiboori
2. Ben Pinkelman (C)
3. Joe Schroeder
4. Matai Leuta
5. Ryan Matyas
6. Anthony Welmers
7. Folau Niua
8. Maka Unufe Jr.
9. Stephen Tomasin
10. Chris Mattina
11. Kevon Williams
12. Martin Iosefo
13. Madison Hughes

USA Rugby Men's Sevens | Silicon Valley Staff
Mike Friday - Head Coach
Chris Brown- Assistant Coach
Brian Green- Physio
Paul Goulding- Team Analyst
Sarah Sall - Team Manager

Men's Eagles Sevens | Silicon Valley Sevens
v Tonga: W 29-7
v New Zealand: W 24-12
v Chile: W 29-21