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USA Men Finally Find a Victory at Cape Town

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USA Men Finally Find a Victory at Cape Town

Can we see more Orrin Bizer? Maybe. Mike Lee KLC fotos for World Rugby.

It was a difficult time in Cape Town for the USA Men's 7s team, as they ended up winning exactly one game all weekend, getting that in the final match to take 9th out of 12.

Day Two Games: USA vs Great Britain

The men looked to right the wrongs from Day 1, coming up against a bewildered GB team. The restart's receive woes continued for team USA as GB kicked over their pods and contested extremely well.

The Eagles breathed a sigh of relief as Great Britain butchered a certain try over the line in the opening stages. The USA looked frantic as their passing off the base of the scrum and at the back of the ruck was under immense pressure. As the USA looked to set up their attack, the ball shot out of the ruck and GB strolled in for an easy try and a 7-0 lead. As GB starved the USA of possession at kickoffs, they put in a well-placed kick and found acres of space in behind, regathering and scoring their second.

Minutes later the Eagles played copycat and put in an identical kick and Malachi Esdale regathered to get points on the board and make it 14-7. The remainder of the half was helter-skelter as the Eagles passing was inaccurate and hindered their ability to gain momentum.  

The second half saw the USA losing possession (again) this time mere inches from the tryline. The pressure continued to mount as the Eagles fumbled another ball at the back of a good scrum platform. Moving away from their set pieces the USA found their second try by use of a quick tap and Esdale running in for his brace. Madison Hughes converted to tie it up 14-14.

Shortly after the restart, team GB hit back with the veteran Hughes missing a tackle on the edge. That made it 21-14 for Great Britain and when a final scoring attempt was squandered by the USA—their passing accuracy let them down and a wide pass floated into touch—that was it. 

The USA will need to learn to absorb pressure in heated moments. 

Day Two 9th-Place Playoff: USA vs Samoa 

The USA looked to pick up the tempo in their last match of the day, opening the scoring through a good turnover and continuity for a 7-0 lead. They created another turnover in quick succession, putting in a good kick-and-chase which Esdale almost dotted down. But he didn't fot it down and instead the Samoans kept the ball alive and ran from their own dead ball line to score a stunner of a try to make it 7-5.

The USA looked to lift the intensity opting for a couple of quick taps in contrast to their usual scrums set plays. A phenomenal offload by Lucas Lacamp saw Orrin Bizer get on the scoresheet and push the USA lead to 12-5. The Samoans used their individual brilliance and stepped a couple of defenders through the middle to equal the game at halftime 12-12. 

The second half saw Lance Williams come to life after a quiet weekend as he stormed down the touchline putting in Hughes for a try. The Eagles were flying high as good feet by Adam Channel beat the Samoan defense and he dotted down for another try and a 24-12 USA lead.

We couldn't help but wonder—where has this Eagle team been all weekend? The Samoans reverted to playing territory as they kept the Eagles deep in their own half, and a lofty pass was intercepted for their first score of the half to get within a try at 24-19.

With a minute left the US defense stood up close to their tryline forcing a knock-on and claiming a scrum. The USA were frantic, as the last minute of the match felt like an eternity and they were just five meters from their own tryline. Finally a penalty by Samoa sealed the USA’s first win for the weekend winning 24-19. 

So there are many things to work on for the USA, and the question is whether the energy and desire of the players who got time in the final match (yes, admittedly against a struggling Samoa team) had earned more time on the first day of a tournament. Or is this about missing some key veterans who were rested for the first two tournaments? It would be interesting to see how the USA does when Kevon Williams is not with them.

Reporting and Analysis by Hanno van Vuuren.