The USA just edged Hong Kong 21-19 Saturday to record their first victory of the Tokyo 7s.
Hong Kong led 12-0 at halftime and also led at full time, but the USA was able to win in dramatic fashion on the final play.
In the opening minutes, Hong Kong scored keeping the ball all the way down the field.
The USA could not buy a call around the ruck, and at least one penalty call against them was exceedingly harsh. But Hong Kong did well to be patient and lead 5-0.
Then two mistakes put the USA behind even further. After a good sequence of runs got them goig, Maka Unufe lost the handle on the ball as he tried to pass from a ruck. Then Shalom Suniula kicked from his own tryline, giving the ball right back to his opponents, and an easy Hong Kong try. 12-0 at halftime.
The Eagles got on the board finally with a nicely taken try that involved Mike Palefau, Tai Enosa, Andrew Durutalo and then finally to Zack Test for his 50th in a try that statred basically form the USA tryline. 12-7 Hong Kong.
Test then nabbed the restart perfectly, something that needs to be a part of his game, and the Eagles were on the charge again, this time big Andrew Durutalo thundering through the Hong Kong defense. The conversion was good and the USA led 14-12.
But it wasn't over yet. Mike Palefau was penalized in the ruck and Hong Kong worked the ball through the [phases with two minutes left. Again a ruck penalty against the USA - another harsh one was the AMericans seemed to come in through the gate and drive their opponents off the ball. This one resulted in another Hong Kong try, and with 10 seconds to go, Hong Kong led 19-14.
Ten seconds was enough. After a series of static moves, they got the ball out to Tai Enosa. The snappy center made a move, pulled two defenders with him, and popped the ball to Rocco Mauer, who cut back and sliced through the Hong Kong defense to score from 60 meters out with no time left. It was just enough, and a dramatic, if imperfect victory for the USA.
The Eagles played their first two opponents of the day relatively tough, losing to New Zealand 26-5 and Australia 15-0. Obviously points were hard to come by in the wet conditions in Tokyo, but the US defense still kept them close.
They finish 1-2 in pool play
USA 5 New Zealand 26
USA 0 Australia 15
USA 21 Hong Kong 19
Tries: Test, Durutalo, Mauer
Convs: Enosa 3
The USA is now in the Bowl Quarterfinals against Pool C 4th place team Kenya at 10:06 am Sunday local time, or Saturday evening in the USA 9:06pm ET, 6:06pm PT