During a rough period that saw the USA 7s team losing nine in a row, the Eagles have felt strongly that they aren’t too far away from winning.
At times they’ve just needed to be smart; other times more aggressive. And sometimes they have needed a player to take charge. The experienced Mike Palefau has tried to be that player. His hoof-pounding run to score against Argentina Saturday didn’t produce a victory, but it did have the air of “enough of this, let’s just get something done,” about it.
“I think yesterday I felt a little passive in the games,” Palefau said Saturday. “At the end of the day I told I would be more dynamic and start attacking more instead of just catching and passing.”
It emerged through the USA’s 21-5 victory over France that Palefau’s approach was helping. He also hoped to bring other players along with him. Key for the USA going forward is how Palefau, whether attacking or working as a distributor, works with Maka Unufe and Miles Craigwell on the wing.
“It’s good,” said Palefau. “It’s kind of tough for Maka on this field because it’s narrower than others. I was working on getting the ball to him earlier, but it’s developing.”
Unufe, for his part, did well to retain possession when caught by defenders, and that shows something else the USA needs to show: patience.
“At the end of the day we talked about how we would focus on the little things – catch, pass, ruck,” said Palefau. “We weren’t going to worry about the score, we were going to take it one day at a time, and not chase any score.”
That certainly seemed to be the approach against France. Now facing a very tough Australia in the Bowl Semis, the USA has to draw on all of their self-imposed advise, and, perhaps, a little take-charge from the likes of Mike Palefau.