Eagles Bowl-bound in Gold Coast
The USA Rugby Men's Eagle Sevens team went 1-2 on day one of the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia to secure a spot in the bowl quarterfinals on day two. A 12-17 loss to South Africa and a 7-22 loss to Australia had the Eagles hungry for a win in their last match of the day against Japan. Some individual brilliance and the Eagles' ability to poach and turn over ball enabled the USA finish 21-0 over the Japanese.
The Eagles came close to downing South Africa, which would have been the first time that had ever happened in their last 18 meetings on the Series. The nail-biter against South Africa was a disappointment, said Caravelli. "It was a shame we lost that game," said Caravelli. "It was very harsh to lose in the way that we did."
Caravelli cited individual efforts and awareness for the points against Japan. "Where defensive alignment was off, we were able to attack."
Over the course of the day, the team showed clear improvement, which is what Caravelli holds as a pillar of progress in the long term, continuous improvement.
The bowl quarterfinal will see the Eagles face Papua New Guinea who scored only one try in their three games against Samoa, France, and Argentina. PNG has definite pace that the Eagles will have to keep an eye on if they hope to advance to the semis.
If they win in the quarters, they'll be guaranteed five series points and a spot in the bowl semis.
"PNG is a team that is physical and tackles like crazy," Caravelli said in reference to their opponents on day two.
The Eagles game will kick off at 9:44 p.m. ET tomorrow. The semifinals and finals will be shown live on Universalsports.com.
USA v. South Africa (11:47 p.m. ET)
The Eagles got off to a very strong start against rugby giants South Africa in the HSBC Sevens World Series opener, but a strong first half wasn't enough to see the USA through to their first-ever win over the Springboks. The stellar try-scorer Zack Test picked up a brace of tries in the first half, giving the USA a valuable lead at halftime.
Chris Dry from South Africa struck against the USA in the second half and the Eagles wouldn't find a way to answer back, giving the Boks the tying score. The Eagles were able to compete, but a South Africa try with only two minutes remaining in the game proved to be the final blow and the match ended with a 12-17 scoreline in South Africa's favor.
Tries: Test (2)
South Africa 17
Tries: Richards, Dry, Prinsloo
USA v. Australia (3:15 a.m. ET)
After a narrow loss to South Africa in the opener, the Eagles had to bounce back to face a very young host team, Australia. The USA got off to a screaming start as Zack Test asserted his dominance in the air with restarts. Some scary moments for the Eagles early in the match were put behind them when veteran Mike Palefau showed his pace for a 70 meter run to the line after Test worked hard to poach the ball after a try-saving tackle in the USA half.
The hosts kicked into high gear spreading the Eagles' defense too thin and finished the half with three tries and a 10-point advantage. A few heroic line breaks and try-saving tackles kept the hosts out of the try zone for five minutes but Australian pressure built steadily and Aussie captain Ed Jenkins hit a great line to bring the final score to 7-22.
Miles Craigwell slotted in well in the backs and nearly had an 80-meter try but was tracked down by the Aussie defense short of the line. The USA scrum was in good shape as well with the big bodies of Mark Bokhoven, Test, and Matt Hawkins destroying the opposition, but the second match of the day got away from the Eagles who shifted their focus to Japan with a quick turnaround.
Tries: Rasolea, Jenkins (2), Jeloudev
USA v. Japan (4:58 a.m. ET)
The Eagles managed to shut out Japan in the last match of the day, seeing the USA through to the bowl quarterfinals. A three-try performance by the Eagles was a just reward for a hard-fought opening day of the 2011-2012 HSBC Sevens World Series.
Folau Niua opened the scoring for the USA, creating an opportunity off of a lineout by showing off his elusive side step and excellent vision. He converted his own try. Shalom Suniula created something out of nothing after opting to go into contact instead of moving the ball outside. It was the right decision in the end as he stood up his defender and shot through for a try.
The Eagles had a 14-0 lead at halftime and Colin Hawley would extend the lead early in the second half. A quick outside step opened up a gap for Hawley, and his pace carried him through to the try zone.
Tries: Niua, S. Suniula, Hawley
Cons: Niua (3)