The 2012 USA 7s tournament is underway, with fans treated to a thrilling opener as Fiji edged Argentina 14-12.
The second game pitted two longtime rivals against each other, as an in-form Canadian team took on hosts and decidedly out-of-form USA.
Both teams looked fired up but it was the USA that made the first hit, and Canada having the last word – 19-12.
In the opening moments, a snappy half-break by Shalom Suniula allowed the captain to change the direction of the attack and set free hooker Zack Test. The vice captain pinned his ears back and just outraced two Canadian defenders to round in under the posts.
With the conversion from Suiniula, the Eagles led 7-0 early.
But Canada came right back. They got a little lucky as a dropped restart was deemed not knocked forward, and then two ruck penalties later, Canada was in – good hands giving Tyler Ardron just enough space. 7-5 USA.
The Eagles replied well. After some tough work from Maka Unufe, some excellent wide passing allowed Matt Hawkins to break three tackles. The prop was understandably a little gassed after running, and handed off to Colin Hawley in the support, and the prop stepped his defender and scored in the corner. 12-5 USA with two minutes left in the half.
The Eagles made an error then, with a deep kickoff going out on the full. However, their defense held and the half ended.
The next kickoff was perfect, with Test catching Suniula’s deft kick in the air. However, the hooker held on in the tackle, and from the penalty Canada worked it to Nathan Hirayama, who did well to evade tacklers and score in the corner, and then hit the touchline conversion to make it 12-12.
The Eagles were on defense soon thereafter, as they didn’t claim the restart. Even though some solid defense, led by sub Miles Craigwell, forced a turnover, a dropped pass gave the initiative right back to Canada.
Still the American defense was strong, and a forced penalty seemed to lift the siege.
Not so, as finally the USA gave up the ball again. From their lineout the ball was rolled, dribbled and lost, giving away 30 meters and possession. Canada took their time, and finally scored through Taylor Paris. 19-12 with the conversion.
There was just enough time for one more possession, and the Eagles did an excellent job not trying to do too much, and working their way down field. But in the end, a run down the right sideline by Andrew Durutalo didn’t quite do the job. He tried to pass inside, a Canadian caught the ball and ran into touch to end the game.
It was much better from the USA, but they are even better than that. They could have won the game, but for key turnovers in their own half. They knew that referee Federico Anselmi never gives the USA any favors, and yet failed to keep control of the game in their own hands.
Tries: Ardron, Hirayama, Paris
Tries: Test, Hawley
Convs: S. Suniula