[Photo: Shalom Suniula spies the try zone during the USA's quarterfinal win at NARCA 7s. (Ian Muir photo)]
The USA ran out to a 21-0 halftime lead before defeating Bahamas 47-0 during the NACRA 7s quarterfinals. The Eagles will play Mexico, which defeated Guyana 17-14 in their quarterfinal, in the semis.
The Bahamas raised the level of physicality in terms of the USA’s previous opponents, and the Eagles saw Colin Hawley take some time to his feet after risking his body during the opening kickoff. Zack Test would later necessitate medical attention when a dangerous tackle shook him up. But for the most part, the Eagles let their defense silence the Bahamas attack, which saw their few opportunities gain little yardage.
The Americans’ first try came two-and-a-half minutes in, when the USA held up Mexico in a tackle, necessitating a scrum to the Eagles. Shalom Suniula sent the ball weak, and Tai Enosa followed inside to keep the ball alive. The ball shifted fields and Maka Unufe finished off the nice team effort in the try zone. Suniula converted, 7-0.
Still eager to push the pace, the Bahamas took a risky quick lineout deep in their own end. It didn’t pay off, as a big tackle from Test on the opposite sideline gave the Eagles momentum to steal possession. A penalty in the breakdown allowed Suniula to quick-tap through the mark and catch the Bahamas sleeping. He converted his own try, 14-0.
A Bahamas knock-on helped set up the USA’s final try of the half. Luke Hume did what he does best – freeze his opposite with a high goose-step, then turning on the jets once he hits the ground. His try came from the 22 meter and ended beneath the posts. Suniula converted, 21-0.
The Bahamas’ woes didn’t end in the second half, as they started the stanza with a kickoff into touch. The Americans sent the ball long to Enosa, who kept the ball moving wide. Hume got through the line and tap-danced through three defenders – and good thing, because he was unsupported – for the try.
On the next possession, it looked like the USA knocked the ball forward in the tap, but it wasn’t called and play continued. The Bahamas stole possession in the next tackle, and a USA knock-on kept the ball in their possession. But the scrum deep in their end wasn’t a boon, as the pass out to the wing was weak and the defense pounced. Peter Tiberio intercepted a tight, soft pass out of contact, and one-handed dished to Carlin Isles coming around the corner. Enosa made a superb sideline conversion for the 35-0 lead.
One of the nicest tries of the Eagles’ NACRA campaign followed when nearly everyone on the pitch touched the ball in a pretty, free-flowing line to the try zone. Jack Halalilo got the five points and tacked on another try before the whistle’s end.
Tries: Unufe, Suniula, Hume 2, Isles, Halalilo 2
Conversions: Suniula 3, Enosa 2, Tiberio