It was a better performance by the USA< but a couple of key errors still spelled defeat for Eagles, as they ended Wellington 0-5.
Scotland started this Shielf Semifinal with a penalty and an extra ten meters. But some outstanding defense by the USA kept their line clear, and eventually the Americans got a turnover. Colin Hawley broke through, and started a USA counter, but in the end they gave up a penalty in the ruck, a penalty that could just as easily been Scotland sealing the ball.
The Americans kept making their tackles, so Byron McGuigan decided to kick over. No one home, and the Scot scored easily. Colin Gregor made the tough conversion, and Scotland led 7-0.
The USA made some inroads offensively, and were unlucky not to get a call for an early tackle. Scotland took the turnover, executed a nice scissor move, and James Fleming just kept away from Maka Unufe to score in the corner.
Corner or posts, it mattered not to Gregor, who slotted the conversion easily. 14-0 Scotland.
In the second half the USA got a few calls go their way, and just looked better. With Hawley very active they scored their first try of Day Two. A penalty to the USA was well executed, and Shalom Suniula set up his brother Roland, who took a small gap and just made it to the line. 14-7 Scotland led.
Moments later it was 14-12. Good USA defense forced Scotland to kick, and from there Shalom Suniula started it all with a nasty fend and then the ball went to Mike Palefau, who put his head down. Palefau was caught short of the line, Zack Test picked up but was tackled and just barely rolled the ball back where Roland Suniula was there to dive over in the corner. The conversion missed, and Scotland led 14-12.
The USA had several chances to take the lead. They had a penalty in the Scottish 22 with a Scot in the sin bin but USA players were slow to the ruck and Zack Test was called for holding on. They had a scrum 25 meters out with a Scot in the sin bin and 80 seconds to go, but started to run tentatively, and eventually gave the ball up when Shalom Suniula rolled the ball to Palefau, who saw the ball bounce off his feet and back to Suniula - offside, and Scottish ball.
It was an odd game. The Eagles seemed reluctant to use Maka Unufe, who made his tackles, passed, and stepped in at halfback when needed, but was never given room to run. Too often the man on the wing was Andrew Durutalo or Test, not their fastest player. Shalom Suniula looked his most confident this tournament, but still seems to have the burden of captaincy weighing his play down.
Mike Palefau had some good moments, but needs to use his wings.
Colin Hawley was outstanding, and showed a very high work rate. Neither Folau Niua and Mark Bokhoven played, and one wonders where they stand with USA Coach Al Caravelli.
Bokhoven's defense wasn't strong on Day One, and Niua, who is on contract with the USA team, was sitting in favor of Roland Suniula.
USA 12 Scotland 14
Tries: R. Suniula 2
Convs: S. Suniula
Starters: Hawley, Test, Durutalo, S. Suniula, R. Suniula, Palefau, Unufe
Subs used: Bender, Craigwell,