The USA finishes Pool Play at the USA 7s 0-3 after a frustrating 14-12 loss to Argentina Saturday in Las Vegas.
The USA entered their final pool match of the 2012 USA 7s on an eight-game losing streak, but still somehow in the hunt for a place in the Cup Quarterfinals.
The adrenaline of playing in front of a packed house surged perhaps a bit too much and Shalom Suniula overcooked the kickoff, sending it out on the full, and giving Argentina a free kick at center. Argentina broke down the right sideline and forcing a penalty. From there hand out gave the Pumas a try and an conversion for a 7-0 Argentina lead.
Argentine decided maybe they needed to mess up a restart, too, and their kick didn’t go ten. The Eagles worked the ball to Maka Unufe, who was dragged down five meters from the posts. But frustrating indecision seemed to paralyze the Eagles, and Colin Hawley was finally stood up and stripped of the ball. Argentina took that ball 85 meters for another try and a 14-0 lead.
Then out of nothing, the Eagles got a boost, as Mike Palefau sidestepped through a half gap, and that was enough. The center churned 80 meters to score. 14-5 Argentina led with a minute to go in the half.
Argentina tried to make something happen with a kick ahead, but the ball rolled into touch in the USA 22. That worked to the USA’s favor, as they were able to secure good lineout ball, and after some smart work in traffic by Unufe, they spun the ball to Colin Hawley. The prop took a big gap and kept surging before feeding Matt Hawkins in support. The wily veteran dropped to his stomach in the end zone, but didn’t touch the ball down – he then jumped up and ran in under the posts to make the conversion easier.
That play ended the half, 14-12, Argentina leading.
The second half started with more difficulty for the Eagles, as Zack Test couldn’t handle the kick. However, the Eagles defended well enough and launched their own attack into Argentina territory. But it seemed again as if the USA was taking too much time. Behind by two, and having to win by at least 13, they took an age and a half to decide what to do on key penalties.
Once Argentina got the ball back, they simply worked the phases. It didn’t help the USA that Argentina was not penalized for dropped onto the ball in the ruck, and the USA was.
In the end, the Eagles had one more chance with the ball, a scrum at their 22. The worked the phases, but were finally, once again unfairly, penalized for diving onto the ball in an attacking ruck. 14-12 Argentina, and the USA is 0-3.
Tries: Palma, Ortego Gesio
Tries: Palefau, Hawkins
Convs: S. Suniula