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USA Takes Creditable 5th At LA Sevens

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USA Takes Creditable 5th At LA Sevens

Stephen Tomasin offloads. David Barpal photo.

The USA took 5th at the LA Sevens, rebounding from a very unlucky quarterfinal to beat France and Ireland on Day Two.

Quarterfinal Sadness

The quarterfinal was distressing to watch. It wasn’t so much that the Eagles played poorly, but that they were the victims of either really poor luck or really poor refereeing.

The USA opened up with some of their best pattern play and that set up Carlin Isles for a classic Isles try

The speedster was free again a few minutes later, once again thanks to some snappy teamwork.

Then it started to fall apart. A break to the corner. Danny Barrett charged out of nowhere to make a desperate tackle, and it seemed clear to everyone in the stadium that Ryan Oosthuizen had dropped the ball. OK, everyone except referee Richard Haughton, who awarded the score. 10- at halftime.

Haughton was active in the second half, too, penalizing Perry Baker in the ruck when it was the South Africans who were making thee or four movements o the ball after the tackle.

Haughton missed a knock-on by the Blitzbokke in another ruck, and those calls led to JC Pretorious cutting through for a try under the posts.

Selvyn Davis converted and the Blitzbokke led 12-10.

Still there was time and the Eagles had the ball and a chance to win it. But a deliberate knock-on to stop a Martin Iosefo pass was not called, and South Africa survived.

Can’t whine about it, said Barrett. The Eagles just had to rebound.

Down Go The French

And rebound they did. Overall, this was the USA’s most successful game, as they controlled the match against France from the outside. Possession, said Head Coach Mike Friday, was the watchword of the day, and they listened.

France actually scored to open the game, but then it was all USA.

Naima Fuala’au capped off a strong series of phases. France defended well, but eventually Iosefo cut through and Barrett finished it off, stretching over the line to just touch it down.

Barrett took exception to a French player lying on him after the try, and there was a bit of a dust-up in which Isles came in to confront Terry Bouhraoua. Things looked like they might get out of hand, but 

cooler heads prevailed. Halftime came, and in the second half, Isles got payback as only he can, embarrassing three Frenchmen with a stop-start move that enlivened the home crowd.

Perry Baker came on to finish the game off tanks to a brilliant offload from Tomasin, and the Eagles won 24-5.

Ireland Scrappy

So on to the 5th-Place final (formerly known as the Plate Final), and it started well for the Americans. Madison Hughes curved around to the right and backhanded a perfect pass to Iosefo, who went 60 meters.

Naima Fuala’au zipped over for another, and then Isles was set up nicely by Iosefo and Hughes to burn around the outside.

Up 19-0 the Eagles got a little impatient, trying to poach the ball too much and thinking about running up the score. Ireland punished them for that with a try at the end of the first half and then another midway through the second that was mainly the result of USA penalties.

So now it was 19-12, and right off the restart the Eagles failed to secure the ball and Ireland was in under the posts. Ugly. And 19-19.

Barrett could be seen putting a charge in his teammates, and he was the one to finish that charge. A snappy, weaving run from Hughes led to Tomasin committing the outside man and putting Barrett away for a crowd-pleasing charge from 50 meters out. Barrett curved close to the posts, but Hughes hit the sticks with his conversion attempt, and so the score stayed at 24-19.

Maka Unufe did superbly to win the next restart, but a low pass from Kevon Williams to Perry Baker ended that attack. Ireland had a scrum in their own half and one more shot at winning the game.

But a tackle from Baker (with a little help from Hughes), finsihed it off.

USA 24, Ireland 19, and the Eagles 4-2 for the weekend and 5th. Not a championship but a solid showing despite Ben Pinkelman missing Day Two with an injury. 

Overall?

Overall, Isles produced several clutch tries, sometimes out of nothing, while Barrett rebounded from a Day One that wasn’t his best to be the beast we know. Several players stepped into added minutes, with Fuala’au, Joe Schroeder (until he too took an injury), Maceo Brown, and Cody Melphy all making plays.

Melphy produced a try-saving tackle against South Africa that was a thing of beauty.