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USA Teams Unbeaten on Day One in Spain

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USA Teams Unbeaten on Day One in Spain

Three tries on the day for Cheta Emba. Martin Seras Lima photo.

It was all about the wins for the USA teams in Málaga, Spain Friday in the first leg of two Sevens World Series events on the Iberian peninsula.

Both the Eagle Women and the Eagle Men ended the first day unbeaten in a tournament that saw a team swoop in at the last minute and even then saw another nation have to hold back both of its teams because of COVID exposure.

And then we also saw one other team split up into three, although all of that was just a step back toward normal.


The Eagles started off in control, seeing Steve Tomasin score in the opening minute against Spain, and then Perry Baker and Carlin Isles torching the Lions for three in the first half.

But it was slow going after that. The USA had trouble getting the ball back and had to rely on what is a pretty strong defense to keep the hosts at bat. USA 19 Spain 14.

In their second clash, the USA team faced off with Jamaica, brought in on short notice, and were expected to run away with it. Both those games can be difficult in their own right, especially if the tries don’t flow. Jamaica did very well to control possession and after a few penalties had a lineout deep in the USA 22.

It all looked like trouble, but Gavan D’Amore stole the Jamaican lineout throw, and from there the game turned. Slow, patient, and careful, the Eagles worked their way out of trouble before a little half-break from Isles allowed him to pop a pass to captain Kevon Williams, who burst through to score under the posts. The Eagles then won the restart and Williams was in for his second. They rolled from there, with Williams getting three.

Yes it was a low-ranked team in Jamaica, but it was also a dominant performance, with the USA defense perhaps the best feature.

Next up is Argentina, which is also 2-0 and a bit of a bête noir for the USA team.

Williams praised his team for being hungry and working hard to work together, and it did seem like they were operating as a team.

USA Women

The country that couldn’t play was Fiji, which meant that the USA, Poland, and Canada all got a win over the absent Fijians. But the Eagles still had work to do.

It was a relatively comfortable win over Poland, with Cheta Emba scoring two and Kris Thomas, Sarah Levy, and Nicole Heavirland also touching down in a 31-7 win.

But the more impressive result was the earlier 22-7 win over Canada. The Americans controlled this game almost from the outset. Kristi Kirshe made a huge break that eventually led to an Ilona Maher try. Then a superb tackle and poach from Heavirland set up another attack.

The USA team produced some really good support efforts, hitting the rucks and being available for offloads. But also of interest was that when they got a penalty inside the Canadian 22, they opted for a scrum. That showed confidence in their ability to win good ball there, but also opened up space out wide. It worked, with Emba going in set up by Heavirland.

Jaz Gray’s astounding 95-meter run in the second half sealed it.

This was the first time we saw Emily Bydwell’s Eagle team and it was one that showed a high work rate and desire to use their teammates. 

Pool play finishes up Saturday but the Eagles have already won that via forfeit. So they will wait to see who they play in the quarterfinals. They will face the best 3rd-place team, which could be Spain, Poland, or the winner of England vs Brazil.