San Francisco and New York are into the quarterfinals of thew World Club 7s after going 2-1 in Pool Play on Saturday in Twickenham. The American team, which is made up mostly of SFGG players, but added Carlin Isles, Jack Halalilo and Mike Te'o from the USA program, were something of a surprise as they defeated the Vodacom Blue Bulls and Northampton Saints before falling to an excellent Buenos Aires team.
San Francisco opened up their account against the Blue Bulls, and with the South African team worrying about Isles on the wing, they were able to use their big guys, Halalilo, Garrett Brewer and Danny Barrett, to exploit space inside. Halalilo got San Francisco on the board first and the Americans won 28-19.
In the second match, it was all very tight. San Francisco looked to get the ball to Isles in space, and, in general, it worked. Isles scored two tries, one from 90 meters, but Northampton scored two as well to tie it 12-12 with time winding down. One more shot for Isles, and the crowd-pleaser raced over for the game-winner. That virtually assured San Francisco a place in the quarterfinals, but a win over Buenos Aires would seal it.
But Buenos Aires played superbly and despite some dogged tackling from Te'o at sweeper, their offloads found hands and they scored five tries to win 31-12.
Te'o was the standout for San Francisco in this game, but the Americans looked a little tired after two tough games and being nine time zones away.
New York ended the day 1-1-1, but it could have been an undefeated run if they had been a bit luckier. Led by captain Nate Augspurger, New York surprised many.
"We know that the majority of teams this weekend a probably going to look at us as their game to - I wouldn't say walk over, but we are the underdogs," Augspurger said before the tournament.
They surprised Western Province with some smart sidestepping and good ball work and led 14-7 at halftime, before holding on 26-19. Then they faced Gloucester, and played well for about ten minutes, staking themselves to a 24-12 lead. But Gloucester stormed back with two converted tries to win 26-24.
In the final pool match, New York held on the tie Moscow 12-12, and that was enough to make the top eight. Vini Daley was prominent for New York, challenging defenses, and Derek Lipscomb was a tough load to contain, as well.
It is a surprisingly successful day, then, for the USA teams, as they faced squads from the Premiership as well as international-heavy teams from elsewhere.