Dubai, UAE - USA Men will have a new goal for the second day of the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens after finishing the opening day 0-3. Drawn in the same pool as New Zealand and South Africa, they also came unstuck against a hard Portuguese outfit.
With a team missing some of its regulars, it was always going to be an uphill battle starting against New Zealand, the perennial series winner. Yet it was an error strewn game in which Shalom Suniula’s team failed to get any real control on the game.
Both halves were very similar, with the men in black taking ownership of the attacks and scoring similar points – 20 unanswered points in each half. They were very clever in using available ball as USA gave away possession eight times. USA only completed 21 passes to New Zealand’s 31.
Next came the South Africa and another solid, win. Individual mistakes and lack of communication resulted in a couple of soft tries – one from the back of the scrum – giving the scoreline a bigger margin that probably the USA team deserved. But a loss it was and South Africa proved to the USA that the gap between the big sevens nations and the rest is one that is getting harder to bridge.
After a long run by speedster Miles Craigwell and a quick tapped penalty, USA scored what until then was the only try of the day, with Colin Hawley touching down under the posts. Captain Shalom Suniula added the conversion. With two and a half minutes, South Africa, who would beat New Zealand 21-5 to qualify top of Pool B, scored their sixth try for the final score of 36-7.
The final game was of no real consequence regarding where the teams would play on Saturday, as both sides were already going to play for the Bowl. But a better performance was the target for the game against Portugal.
They did come within a kick to tying the game that was drawn 5-all after seven minutes and which Portugal tried to control in the second half. After a quick try and while the flow seemed to be going the Europeans’ way, the USA stuck in and attacked, not with flair but with passion. Nick Edwards scored the last try of the game – his teammate Colin Hawley had touched down in the first half – and it was down to Folau Niua to tie the game but his kick failed to hit the target.
USA will now play Zimbabwe, a team that has beaten them in all but one of their four encounters. The last time they met was earlier this year ago, in London, and the Africans won 31-7. The other matches were played in Dubai, where the USA 7s team won 28-12 a year ago.