The good news is that the USA 7s team finally scored some points. The bad news is, they didn’t score enough, as the Cook Islands came back to win 26-22 and leave the Eagles 0-3 on Day One in Wellington.
Everything started exactly as planned for the USA as Zack Test took the opening kickoff and rambled across the line for a try just seconds into the match.
The USA kept up the pressure and Shalom Suniula’s try made it 10-0 with barely two minutes gone.
But the Cook Islands can play, and with the USA’s confidence shaken after two shutouts, they were put on the back foot once again. Jamie Makara’s try made it 10-7.
Maka Unufe answered, though, the youngster making his World Series debut scored his first try, and Shalom Suniula’s conversion gave the Eagles a cushion at 17-7.
But right before the break the Eagles couldn’t hold that lead. Mairan Mahia’s try made it 17-14 at halftime.
Right after the break, Peter Tiberio seemed to have put the game away. His try 90 seconds in made it 22-14. But once again the Cook Islands came back, and the USA inexperience showed as they couldn’t put the game away. Koiatu Koiatu’s try put his side with a point at 22-21, and then, with time winding down, Jerome Vogel’s try won the game for the Cook Islands.
It was a classic end to a lousy day for the USA. They didn’t take good enough care of the ball, and had trouble early on running good support lines. Any advances they made in team defense were hurt by mistakes with the ball in hand.
Tries: Test, S. Suniula, Unufe, Tiberio
Starters: Bokhoven, Test, Durutalo, Tiberio, S. Suniula, Palefau, Unufe
Subs used: Bender, Niua, Hawley
Cook Islands 26
Tries: Koiatu, Makara, Mahia, Vogel
Convs: Koiatu 3