The 7s Eagles got off to a disappointing start in Wellington, falling 10-5 to Spain. Jack Halalilo scored the USA’s only try within the game’s first minute after Spain was pinged for a penalty deep in its own end and shown a yellow card. Folau Niua missed the conversion.
The Eagles returned the favor after Maka Unufe made a nice open-field tackle and swiveled to his feet to play the ball. He was in the process of trying to pry it from the grounded ball carrier when Luke Hume got involved without coming through the gate cleanly. Marcos Poggi scored on Spain’s next possession, but missed the conversion, to tie the game at 5-5.
USA could have easily gone down a try or up a try at the end of the first half. Some wild and ill advised passing deep in their own end put the Eagles in danger, but Spain didn’t capitalize. Then Colin Hawley made a break of about 80-meters, that he couldn’t finish, and he didn’t have close enough support. Spain gathered the loose ball that resulted from a desperate Hawley pass and cleared it to touch to end the half.
Magleby made wholesale changes in the second half, bringing on all five subs about 90 seconds past intermission. The first platoon of Eagles struggled to connect simple passes and set up attack, and the second group followed suit, adding in the tactic of running directly into contact. The inconsistent Canadian referee punished them multiple times at the breakdown, and at least twice for not releasing.
Spain’s go-ahead try came off of a set penalty play – one switch and one dummy line and the Eagles conceded an overlap that led to Poggi’s second score.
Up next for the Eagles is England, which looked very fast in its 19-14 upset of New Zealand in the first round.