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Winless Day in Cape Town for USA Men

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Winless Day in Cape Town for USA Men

Restarts a key piece of the USA game. Mike Lee KLC fotos for World Rugby.

The USA men went 0-3 on Day One in Cape Town.

USA vs Ireland (Hamiltons Field)

USA opened the match with a clear intent to carry the ball into contact however Ireland found themselves up to the task. With a couple of loose passes and handling errors creeping in, in the first half, the USA quickly found themselves on the back foot. Ireland looked to exploit the space in behind the Eagles and a regathered kick and excellent footwork by the Irish led to them going ahead 7-0.

The US looked to restore momentum with a good turnover by Pinkelman, however their scrum strike plays seemed not to faze the Irish. A penalty at the ruck led to a quick-tap by the Irish and veteran Jordan Cornoy ran in for their second (14-0). 

The second half saw more of the same with the Irish kicking off over the US pods and focusing on brutality at the contact points to turn the ball over within two phases from kickoff. A quick tap saw Ireland beat a couple of USA defenders and run in their first for the second half to make it 19-0. After additional pressure at the ruck the ball got dislodged and scooped up by the Irish for yet another try to make it 24-0.

The USA seemed to struggle to find their tempo and the Irish were up to all sorts of tricks, offloading well in contact, and running  in a last try late in the depths making it 31-0. 

This was not the ideal start for the Eagles as they were quite focused on gathering their restarts, but what to do after a receiving the kickoffs proved problematic. 

Hard lesson: Don’t try to combat the Irish with physicality, and look to set up deeper in order to shift the ball. 

USA vs South Africa (Main Field) 

A wounded USA look to redeem themselves against Dubai Champions as they weathered the storm in the opening phases. The Eagles looked to chase the Blitzboks downfield with a kick off the base of a scrum, winning about 50 meters.

The South Africans drew first blood with excellent edge plays and their old tactic of kicking in behind the defense. The Eagles struggled to get on the front foot on the back of multiple loose passes and handling errors. The Blitzboks got their second try from the base of a scrum deep in their own half and a late switch which saw them get over. That made it 14-0.

The second half started well for the Eagles as they found space out wide off a quick tap, and good interlinking play.

A high shot on Pinkelman saw the South Africans drop down to six men which gave them the go-ahead for a clear momentum shift. The USA fully utilized the opportunity off a good strike play which saw a step inside and an offload to Lucas Lacamp close the deficit to 14-7.

Good contesting from a kickoff and a loose pass by South Africa got scooped up and saw Lacamp heading in for his brace and with Madison Hughes kicking they had it tied 14-14. With the Blitzboks back to their full complement, they looked to capitalize stretching the US defense to set up yet another kick in behind.

This time the Eagles were up to the task, securing the ball before a Blitzbok could dot it down. A short-regathered 22-meter kickoff saw the US try to attack from their own half, however their hands (once again) let them down. The Blitzboks pulled the USA in for multiple phases, releasing a floating pass allowing them to dot down for their third try in the corner and a 19-14 lead. A clever restart by the Blitzboks was regathered and an audacious dummy saw the Blitzboks go over for a last try and a 26-14 victory.

Hard Lesson: The Eagles need to tighten up their loose passing 

USA vs GBR (Main Field) 

The USA looked to have a bit more time on the ball as GBR allowed them to shift the ball into the wider channels. Ben Broselle opened the scoring after a quick tap and simple hands beat the defense.

Great Britain looked to hit back going route one straight through the middle of the park displaying good continuity, taking the score to 7-7. GB heavily contested their restarts, starving the USA of possession. Off the kickoff they regained their kick and took the Eagles to the edge, and a late switch saw them run in for their second try for a 14-7 lead.

After a good crossfield kick to the veteran Madison Hughes, the US started clawing back.

The start of the second half was all GB as they burst through the line, with defenders falling off the runners, and taking the lead 19-12. Marcus Tupuola showed incredible work ethic popping up several times in a sequence which saw Lacamp level the scores at 19-19.

In a moment of weakness the USA attempted a late counterruck, committing one too many players. This saw GBR scamper down the touchline (19 - 26). The Lacamp show continued as he put Adam Channel in for a late score to draw the game at 26-26. 

With the new format not allowing matches to end in draws and the golden point rule in effect the game was far from over. The USA threw a few loose passes putting themselves under pressure in their own half and Tupoala saw yellow for slapping down the ball in a tackle. A well-structured move from GB set up a try for them, and the USA were winless 31-26.

Hard lesson: In the game of 7s you cannot afford to lose your kickoff receives. 

Reporting and Analysis by Hanno van Vuuren