More drama at the USA 7s, as the Plate semifinal between USA and Canada necessitated overtime before awarding the title berth. But fortune wasn’t on the Eagles’ side, as myopic field vision and inconsistent execution afforded Canada the 24-19 victory.
The USA worked the opening kickoff near their 22 meter, until Canada took advantage of poor support at the ruck. The ball unguarded, the Americans stalled for a second awaiting a penalty, but the ref threw up his arms indicating everything was kosher. Canada quickly attacked, worked the ball to Nathan Hirayama, who pushed off Andrew Durutulo for the try. Hirayama converted his try for the 7-0 lead.
It quickly became 14-0. From the next kickoff, Blaine Scully was called offsides as he reined in Zack Test’s forward tap. Canada quick-tapped and this time it was Scully who couldn’t finish a straight-on tackle on John Moonlight as he ran into the try zone. Hirayama slotted Canada’s second centered try.
The next series was a game-changer for the USA. Even though Canada kept their own restart, the USA managed to turn over a ruck and sent the ball wide. But the pass arced and bounced en route to Test, and to prevent the ball going into touch, it was blindly hiked into the center of the field. Canada’s breakaway was called back, and the USA realized they got lucky in avoiding punishment for that foolish hurl.
Instead, the Eagles made their most promising trip into Canada’s territory when Hawkins scooped up another unattended ball in the ruck and sent it wide. Scully gets close to the tryline, bouncing off a no-wrap tackle. Hawkins was in support but opted for the pick-and-go instead of a pass from base, and he knocked on.
But the USA made good use of the territory and found themselves with a five-meter scrum. Another shoddy, wide pass was sent to Carlin Isles, who sucked in three defenders for a couple of meters. It opened up enough space for a lane right next to the contact area, and Hawley hit Hawkins for the easy try. Folau Niua hit the conversion for the 14-7 scoreline into half.
The second half didn’t start well for the USA, as Niua’s kickoff went straight into touch. Conor Trainor made good ground angling across the field against a soft defense, and then the Eagles surrendered another 10 meters to a switch on the opposite side of the field. The USA was penalized for not rolling away, and a couple of phases after the quick tap, Jeff Hassler worked the overload perfectly, 19-7.
With plenty of time left in the game and down two scores, the USA did well to keep their heads up. Test took the ball on the sideline with a head of steam, spun out of a couple tackles, and worked hard to center the try. Luke Hume picked up the ball for the conversion, and missed it. Those two points, the easiest ones of the game, would prove crucial.
An overzealous Taylor Paris allowed the USA to keep attacking in Canada’s 22 meter, as the youngster sent a cheap shot to Carlin Isles behind the referee’s back. Paris was sent off once the assistant referees chimed in, and Niua dove over for the try after a couple of attempts. Niua’s conversion made it 19-19 with about a minute left.
As the clock wound down, the USA found themselves scrambling to their tryline, as Canada was one offload away from a game-winning try. Fortunately, the lob was intercepted and Hawkins smartly kicked to touch instead of risking a turnover deep in their end.
Into sudden death overtime. It took two minutes for Canada to win the game, but the USA had their shot to up points first, or at least build a sustainable drive downfield. Canada kept their kickoff and were eventually penalized for offsides in the USA’s 22 meter. But the opportunity fell flat as Hawkins overlooked open teammates to his left and instead sent a long, messy pass to Test out wide right. It got scrappy around the gather and the USA kicked the ball into touch to be safe.
Canada was ready to end the game, used the possession for a couple of well drilled phases and eventually put Nanyak Dala into the try zone from 20 meters out, 24-19.
The day’s over for the USA, who finished 1-4 on the weekend. Canada moves onto the Plate final against Scotland.
Tries: Hawkins, Test, Niua
Cons: Niua 2
Tries: Hirayama, Moonlight, Hassler, Dala
Cons: Hirayama 2
USA v Canada USA 7s
Shots from USA v Canada, won by Canada 24-19 in overtime. Dobson Images.