Australia edged the USA 19-12 in the opening round of the Men's Dubai 7s Friday.
The Eagles has plenty of possession and defended quite well, but could not take good enough care of the ball to win.
The Eagles controlled the ball off the kickoff, and spun the ball left to Nick Edwards. Edwards raced out of his 22, sent the ball back to the right, and then debutant Nate Augspurger sent a nice pass out to Zack Test.
Test had work to do and after 50 meters was caught just short of the line. But he had enough height to stretch over for the try and the 5-0 lead.
But Australia got it right back. They controlled a deep restart and push on the right and then an attack up the middle spun Edwards around. Maka Unufe made a tackle just before the line but Junior Laloifi was there to take the pass and, with Cameron Clark's conversion, a 7-5 Australia lead.
The USA spent the next few minutes defending, and they did that well, eventually forcing a turnover. But they could not use the ball well - too many passes weren’t to hand, let alone for the man. The slick ball on a rare rainy day in Dubai might have been a factor, but they needed to make their passes.
The mistakes put the USA under pressure, but they got the ball back. After Unufe did well to race back to his tryline to win a key ruck, Matt Hawkins picked and ran out of the 22 before scissoring with Colin Hawley. The former Cal Bear finished it off, going 70 meters to score. 12-7 USA.
That's how the first half ended. In the second half the USA ran afoul somewhat of the referee, called a couple of times for sealing off in the ruck.
Still their forced several turnovers on defense, only to give the ball back with bad passes, sloppy ruck ball, or unexpected passes. That last set up an easy try for Sean McMahon.
Then an attempted pass out of contact by Hawkins bounced off an Aussie head and fell to Peter Lee. Almost all of the USA's possession was in their own 22, and yet they still almost tied the game. Perhaps this was a lesson that there are times when kicking for territory is advised.
Certainly it was a lesson in ball control.
Tries: Test, Hawley
Tries: Laloifi, McMahon, Lee
Convs: Clark 2