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USA Impressive on Day One in Singapore

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USA Impressive on Day One in Singapore

Williams scored key tries against Kenya and Canada. Ian Muir photo.

The USA's experience on Day One of the Singapore 7s was highlighted by bizarre or surprising occurrences in the final seconds of each of the three games.

The upshot is that the Eagles won their pool, going 3-0 and setting themselves up for a quarterfinal meeting with upstarts Ireland. 

Game 1—Weird Ending Against Kenya

The Eagles started well early on and put Kenya under some pressure, but they also made errors that undercut their scoring chances. Kenya, however, got into penalty trouble and that finally set up the USA's first score—a quick tap with the ball sent quickly wide to Perry Baker who did the rest.

Kenya replied with some good offloads out of contact to tie the game 5-5, but in the second half captain Kevon Williams scooped up a loose ball and turned a pretty sloppy period of play from the Eagles into a lovely run up the middle for a try. Conversion good and it was 12-5 USA.

With time essentially up the Eagles were on the attack again when a pass from Williams was intercepted by Edmund Anya and he was gone untouched to score under the posts. All Kenya had to do was kick the easy conversion to tie the game. The kick went under the bar, however, and the USA escaped 12-10.

Game 2—Weird Ending Against Canada

Overall the USA dominated the game against Canada. Lucas LaCamp scored a well-taken early try and Williams went up the middle for another. Williams went around and through after a scrum (the result of a not-straight lineout throw by Canada), and second-half tries from Baker and Marcus Tupuola made it 33-7 with time up. All the Eagles needed to do was win the ball and kick it dead. 

They won the ball, Williams turned around to kick the ball out the back, and amazingly the ball hit the uprights, rebounded into in-goal, and Canada's Anton Ngogo dove on it to score. The try didn't mean anything in relation to the result, but it was a strange ending nonetheless.

Game 3—Thrilling Ending Against South Africa

The USA defense was superb against South Africa, which came into the game on a 36-game winning streak, the second-longest of all time. David Still charged out of a tackle and galloped in for an impressive early try, and LaCamp converted from the touchline for a 7-0 lead that held up until about two minutes left in the game. 

The USA aggressiveness in defense was good and it forced some errors from the South Africans. The Blitzbokke also committed a lot of penalties, including all five penalties called in the first half.

Finally, with time almost up Ryan Oosthuizen finished off South Africa's best movement and Dewald Human converted to tie the game.

With essentially no time left the Eagles got a scrum. Not content with the tie they attacked wide and Dmontae Noble, getting his first minutes ever for the USA 7s team, made a little break and then fed a beautiful pass as he was falling to Baker. The experienced Baker did the rest and raced off into the corner for the game-winner.

The result meant the USA was 3-0, had stopped South Africa's impressive streak, and did it without Williams on the field, as the captain was carrying an injury and was inactive for the third game.

"I knew that D"montae would make a play," said Baker after the game. "I just allow him to be him."

Also 3-0 on the day were New Zealand (back on the circuit after a long hiatus) and Australia. Fiji won their pool despite losing to Ireland.

The USA finished the day without Williams and were also without injured Carlin Isles and Stephen Thomasin, who didn't make the trip. They did, however, welcome Folau Niua back after a long injury layoff.