The USA men's 7s team won their opening match in the Pan-Am Games, and while it was clear the Eagles were the better side than Chile, it was also clear they have a little work to do to get into mid-season form.
Chile was very physical and repeatedly caused the USA problems in the breakdown. They ran one-offs from the rucks and counter-rucked effectively, leaving the Eagles without the ball for the better part of two minutes. When they went wide, though, they knocked on, and even though the USA had a scrum deep in their half, it seemed a prime attacking opportunity. Hands out to rookie Maka Unufe, and the United U19 star made a move and raced 60 meters for a try and a 7-0 USA lead.
The Eagles still struggled to get the ball, and when they did they were too slow to the breakdown, giving up a few holding on penalties. The score remained 7-0 at halftime.
In the second half, more of the same, but the Americans looked very comfortable on defense and didn't give Chile much. Finally they forced a scrum deep in their half, and this time it was hands out to sub wing Rocco Mauer, who did the same as Unufe, and showed his speed to score from long range.
That made it 14-0, and the Eagles could have made it 21-0 after a long counter by Zack Test. He had support and it seemed inevitable that the Americans would score their third. But Shalom Suniula was hauled down just before the line, no one was there to ruck over him, and after Suniula flung the ball back in desperation, Nu'u Punimata slipped on the new turf, allowed Chile to steal the ball and go 95 meters for a try at the whistle.
Chile looked very effective in tight, and at one point tried a six-man maul from a lineout. But the American defense held, and the Eagle demonstrated that if they get men to the breakdown first, and feed their backs in space, they can score.
It's worth noting that all the USA's scorers were playing in their first game for the USA 7s team.
Tries: Unufe, Mauer
Convs: Niua 2
Mark Bokhoven, Zack Test, Blaine Scully (Hawley at 12 mins), Shalom Suniula (c), Folau Niua, Mile Pulu (Nu'u Punimata at 13 mins), Maka Unufe (Rocco Mauerat 9 mins)