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Written by Alex Goff    Sunday, 12 February 2012 04:27    PDF Print Write e-mail
Palefau More Assertive
Sevens - USA Sevens Men


During a rough period that saw the USA 7s team losing nine in a row, the Eagles have felt strongly that they aren’t too far away from winning.

Dobson Images
Numina Photo.

At times they’ve just needed to be smart; other times more aggressive. And sometimes they have needed a player to take charge. The experienced Mike Palefau has tried to be that player. His hoof-pounding run to score against Argentina Saturday didn’t produce a victory, but it did have the air of “enough of this, let’s just get something done,” about it.

“I think yesterday I felt a little passive in the games,” Palefau said Saturday. “At the end of the day I told I would be more dynamic and start attacking more instead of just catching and passing.”

It emerged through the USA’s 21-5 victory over France that Palefau’s approach was helping. He also hoped to bring other players along with him. Key for the USA going forward is how Palefau, whether attacking or working as a distributor, works with Maka Unufe and Miles Craigwell on the wing.

“It’s good,” said Palefau. “It’s kind of tough for Maka on this field because it’s narrower than others. I was working on getting the ball to him earlier, but it’s developing.”

Unufe, for his part, did well to retain possession when caught by defenders, and that shows something else the USA needs to show: patience.

“At the end of the day we talked about how we would focus on the little things – catch, pass, ruck,” said Palefau. “We weren’t going to worry about the score, we were going to take it one day at a time, and not chase any score.”

That certainly seemed to be the approach against France. Now facing a very tough Australia in the Bowl Semis, the USA has to draw on all of their self-imposed advise, and, perhaps, a little take-charge from the likes of Mike Palefau.

 
Written by Pat Clifton    Sunday, 12 February 2012 00:25    PDF Print Write e-mail
Points Still Savory for Plate Semifinalists
Tournaments - USA Sevens Tournament

The big prize is off the table for Kenya, England, Wales and Argentina, but valuable Series points are still on offer for the Plate champion.

Kenya, who has been electrifying all weekend, ran into the buzz saw named Samoa in the Cup quarterfinals. Despite conceding three tries to the monstrous Alafoti Faosiliva, Kenya was within striking distance the entire match. Ultimately, though, Humphrey Kayange and Oscar Ouma’s tries weren’t enough in the 19-14 loss.

Facing Kenya in the Plate semis is Wales, who also lost a heart-wrenching match in the Cup Quarters. Wales scored first to take a lead on Fiji, and down just 12-5, had a chance to draw level late when a probing run was stopped just short of the try line.

England, too, nearly reached the Cup semis, but reigning circuit champs New Zealand was too powerful, beating England 12-7. However, England will be favored in the Plate semis against Argentina.

The Pumas were entirely outgunned in its Cup quarter by South Africa. The Springboks have the best point differential in the tournament thus far, its closest game being a 17-point win in pool play.

 
Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Saturday, 11 February 2012 22:27    PDF Print Write e-mail
USA 7s Bowl, Shield Semis Set
Tournaments - USA Sevens Tournament

The Bowl and Shield semifinalists have been decided as day two of the USA 7s tournament comes to a close.

Peter Tiberio eyes the tryline in the USA's Bowl quarterfinal win over France. (Dobson Images)

After a frustrating 14-12 loss to Argentina to begin the day, the USA rebounded in the playoffs. The Eagles got their first victory of the tournament over France, a 21-5 win that relegated their opponents to the Shield competition.

The game didn't start as auspiciously as it began. After five minutes of scoring deadlock, France's Paul Albaladejo and USA's Folau Niua were sinbinned. Les Bleus took advantage of the chaos and sent Julien Jane across the tryline for the 5-0 lead.

But it would be the only lead - and points - France would enjoy. The Eagles regrouped and took the lead just before the half, when Zack Test finished off an American offensive and Shalom Suniula converted.

Suniula proceeded to convert Niua's and Peter Tiberio's second-half tries for the Bowl semifinal berth.

The Eagles will face Australia, who destroyed Brazil 50-0. The South Americans were winless coming into knockouts but the Aussies delivered the biggest point differential. The most impressive aspect of Australia's victory was the diffusion of points. Seven different players dotted down, resulting in the lead point scorer - Allan Fa'alava'au - accounting for only 10 points on two tries.

Brazil will have the opportunity to play more level competition tomorrow, as they prepare for France.

The upset of the day occured in the Japan v Scotland game. The Scots played both England and Kenya well during pool play, while Japan struggled against New Zealand and Samoa.

But Japan was ready for Scotland and ran out to a 10-0 lead on two tries from Ryo Tsuruta. Snapped to attention, Scotland responded during the final three minutes of the half, sending James Fleming across the line twice for two tries. Colin Gregor was able to convert both scores for the 14-10 lead into the half.

The game was decided a little over a minute into the half when Kazushi Hano scored Japan's third five-pointer of the match. Try though they might, Scotland couldn't put those go-ahead points on the board and lost 15-14.

Japan moves onto the Bowl semifinals against Canada, which had their way with Uruguay in their 29-0 bowl quarterfinal win over Uruguay. Japan would be wise to focus some attention on Taylor Paris, who logged a hat trick in Canada's bowl semifinal berth.

A recap:
Bowl Quarterfinals
Canada 29-0 Uruguay
Japan 15-14 Scotland
USA 21-5 France
Australia 50-0 Brazil

Bowl Semifinals
Australia v USA
Japan v Canada

Shield Semifinals
Brazil v France
Scotland v Uruguay

 
Written by Pat Clifton    Sunday, 12 February 2012 00:20    PDF Print Write e-mail
Traditional Rivals Meet in Cup Semis
Tournaments - USA Sevens Tournament

Fiji, Samoa, South Africa and New Zealand are all still in the hunt for the Cup heading into day three of the 2012 USA Sevens. Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand have reached the semifinals undefeated, while Samoa is 3-1 so far, having fallen to the All Blacks in both teams’ pool finale Saturday.

Samoa started that game well, looking like the well-oiled machine that won the Cup in Las Vegas back in 2010. Manu moved the ball efficiently and fluidly toward New Zealand’s try line, and Paul Perez put Samoa on top after just over a minute of play with a converted try.

Samoa dominated the rest of the half, but gave up a try to DJ Forbes nearly 90 seconds into extra time. Tomasi Cama then opened the second half with the go-ahead score, giving New Zealand the 12-7 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Manu bounced back in the Cup quarters, however, grinding down a smaller Kenya team. The Kenyans had been playing well all tournament, and did against Samoa, but the power of Alafoti Faosiliva, the 2010 USA Sevens tournament MVP, proved too much. Faosiliva bullied his way to three tries in the 19-14 win.

New Zealand ousted England in another close quarterfinal, 12-7. Frank Halai scored in the opening minute for the All Blacks, and Tomasi Cama in the second half. England speedster Dan Norton dotted down between the two New Zealand tries.

South Africa advanced to the semis with relative ease, downing Argentina 24-5. South Africa was up 19-0 off of Steven Hunt, Cecil Afrika and Kyle Brown tries before Javier Ortega Desio got Argentina on the board in the second half.

Fiji needed a big second half to surpass Wales, who scored in the last minute of the opening half to take a 5-0 lead. Setefano Cakau provided two second-half tries to propel Fiji into the final four.

The semifinal matchups pit Southern Hemisphere rivals against one another and Pacific Island foes head-to-head, as Samoa and Fiji meet in one and New Zealand and South Africa in the other.

 
Written by Alex Goff    Saturday, 11 February 2012 22:16    PDF Print Write e-mail
Canada Pleased with Progress
Canada - Men


After filleting the Uruguayan national team 29-0 the Canadian 7s team walked off the field at the USA 7s with a little bit of a swagger.

Dobson ImagesPushing Fiji was nice, beating the USA was nicer, but thrashing a tough Uruguay team made them feel just a little bit better.

“It was nice to actually string together a full game,” said Canada captain Nathan Hirayama. “We haven’t really done that this tournament. We had spurts of playing well.”

Hirayama said the team feels like they can win any game.

“We’re in it to win it, and we felt like we played well at times against Fiji,” he said. “They scored two tries in the first few minutes, and we were playing down a man for a while. That made it harder, but we were still competitive.”

Hirayama himself has started to take control of games on the ground. He is running the ball more and breaking tackles.

“I think maybe it’s a confidence thing, or maybe someone has to fill Phil Mack’s role as a playmaker; I think everyone is stepping up to do that.”

Canada has plenty of support in Las Vegas as they look to the Bowl Semifinals on Sunday.

“It’s great it feels like a home game except when we played the States on Friday,” he said. “It’s really great to play in front of so many Canadian fans.”

Canada’s Saturday Box Scores:

Canada 10 Fiji 19
Tries: Hirayama, Duke


Bowl QF
Canada 29  Uruguay 0
Tries: Paris 3, Duke, Hassler
Convs: Hirayama 2



 


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