The USA is into the NACRA 7s final after a 33-7 win over Mexico. There were high and lowlights, but at the end of 14 minutes, it was the USA’s strength and speed one-on-one that contributed to the victory. That said, Mexico scored the first points against the Eagles, and that evolved after a lapse in defensive organization.
Colin Hawley kept the opening kickoff but a too-flat pass was nearly intercepted, but fortunately knocked forward by Mexico. After the scrum, Tai Enosa’s pass didn’t reach the win, and the stall in attack allowed Mexico to push the USA back to the 40 meter. But a couple of iterations later, and some nifty footwork by Enosa on the sideline, Luke Hume got through and touched down 1:15 minutes in. Shalom Suniula’s conversion made it 7-0.
Shortly afterward, Mexico received a penalty and attempted to kick to touch, but fell short. Suniula corralled the ball as it trickled downfield and sucked Mexico into some tight phases close to the touchline. The ball then spun wide quickly, and while Mexico adjusted OK, the defense couldn’t match Unufe and Hawley one on one. Unufe took it into the try zone, Suniula converted, 14-0.
Mexico had an opportunity to close the gap but botched their best chance for first-half points. After getting great field position from a long penalty kick to touch, the short throw-in was ruled forward. From the USA scrum on their five meter, Hume and Unufe teamed up for the length of the field, too strong and wily for the Mexican defenders when at full pace, 21-0 with the Suniula conversion.
Colin Isles inaugurated the second half, once again displaying his impressive pace along the sideline. During his first break into Mexico’s half, he was nearly shoved into touch, but the Americans were fortunate to reign in the bobbling ball. After some regrouping, Zack Test turned it upfield between two defenders then hit Isles coming around. He just escaped an ankle-diving defender fro the try, 26-0.
Mexico scored the first points on the USA three minutes into the second half. Originating from a penalty play, awarded after Test entered the side of ruck, Mexico caught the USA unguarded on the sideline. Unufe immediately started corner-flagging toward the ballcarrier’s inside lane, while sweeper Hawley came across for the head-on tackle. But then Mexico chipped ahead into open green and dotted down for the converted try, 26-7.
It was likely the loudest the crowd has been all weekend, aside from when a Canadian team was playing. Mexico found a little momentum afterward, especially as the USA committed a couple of penalties to keep the ball in Mexico’s hand, but Hume’s second try, which Peter Tiberio converted, put an end to their bright spot.
In the end, Mexico took too much manpower to bring down the American ballcarriers, and when traveling at top speed, the USA fended their opponents easily. Mexico did, however, expose some chinks in the American defensive organization, lapses that can’t afford to happen in the final against the winner of Canada v Jamaica.