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USA Men Win Pool But Questions Remain

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USA Men Win Pool But Questions Remain

Perry Baker fends off some Irish attention. Mike Lee KLC fotos for World Rugby.

Two wins and one tie were enough to see the USA men's national 7s team into the Cup Quarterfinals in Hamilton, NZ and keep their streak of good results going.

It wasn't all smooth sailing, however, as the Eagles were pushed a little bby Japan and a world class conversion kick from Stephen Tomasin to remain unbeaten.

As it was the Americans won their pool, which set them up to face a very good Australia team in the quarterfinals.

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What the USA hopefully learned from the day was that you can't lose focus, even for a second, and certainly not when you're in danger of getting carried away with the idea of scoring.

Against Japan, the Eagles were tied going into halftime, but a try from Malachi Esdale nudged them ahead, and three breakthrough in the closing minutes—one by Kevon Williams and two by Perry Baker—produced a somewhat flattering 40-12 scoreline.

The USA's second game, against Ireland, was a game they could have won comfortable. But at least twice they had a try for the taking only for a frantic snatch at the ball creating a knock-on. Williams, normally calm and sure-handed, will really not have been happy with one of those.

Down 7-0 at halftime the USA clawed back with a classic try from Perry Baker, who is playing in his 60th World Series tournament. Nothing on, stuck in their 22, they got it to Baker with a sliver and space and he was off for an 85-eter jaunt. Ireland retook the lead only for Ben Broselle to break through out of nothing for a try near the corner. 14-12 with the kick to come, and Tomasin sailed it through to preserve a tie.

Too many mistakes killed USA momentum in this one.

Calmer and a bit more clinical in the final game the Eagles saw Tomasin cut up the middle for one and David Still simply dismiss a tackler with a fend and long run for another. Uruguay's tails are up this year and they are playing some tough, hard-nosed 7s, and responded with a well-taken try.

But some good teamwork put Esdale through for the try that probably sealed it, and Broselle put the final nail in before full tine. That made it 28-12 to the USA, not a blowout, but enough.

The tie vs Ireland didn't change much. Win or tie the USA would have won their pool and they were going to play Australia or New Zealand regardless. Even so, Day Two will require attention to detail, especially when chances are there.