Sunday at the USA 7s was an exciting, and surprising, one for USA fans, and Sunday promises plenty more.
In control, Fiji pushed aside Portugal to win their pool. It all came down to Scotland v. England to see who might take 2nd, and Scotland shut out England 14-0 – the English, champions in Wellington, ended pool play 0-3.
Canada had beaten Kenya in their opening match on Friday, and so at 1-1 faced Uruguay. They dismantled Los Teros behind three tries from Jeffrey Hassler, not their usual big scorer. Hassler scored in the first minute and Canada never looked back and always went forward.
South Africa won the pool, and finished their 3-0 run as their more physical style trampled Kenya 15-5.
New Zealand were superb and beat Argentina 17-5 to go 3-0. Head Coach Gordon Tietjens used his entire squad and rested plenty of players – understandable as he saw the finalists from Wellington, Kenya and England, struggle to a combined 1-5 pool play record.
Wales, crushed by New Zealand on Friday, rebounded to edge France thanks to Will Thomas’s try and finish 2-1.
While Samoa won the pool, all the drama was about the last two games.
Going into the final round, Australia was 1-1 with a +9 point differential. Spain was 1-1 with a +3. The USA was 0-2 with a -24.
The USA needed some help, but still had a shot. First bit of help was Samoa beating Australia 28-7 behind Patrick Faapale’s two tries and three conversions. That dropped Australia to 1-2 and a -12.
So now the Eagles had a job to do. They not only had to beat Spain, they had to do it by 14 or more. Up 10-7 with three minutes to go, the Eagles did just what they needed. Shalom Suniula scored with just over a minute to go, and then Nick Edwards scored a minute past the hooter. No Folau Niua had to hit the difficult conversion. He did.
That put the USA at 1-2 and -9, Spain at 1-2 and -12, and Australia the same. Amazingly the USA had made the Cup Quarterfinals.
More drama. England held off a furious Australia comeback in the Bowl Quarters. Steeve Barry’s late try put France past Kenya. Argentina shut out Uruguay and Spain shut out Portugal.
In the Cup Quarters, the USA scored with no time left but couldn’t get the touchline conversion. Fiji beat them 21-19. New Zealand shut out Canada 17-0, but it looked like the All Black 7s wanted to just run out the clock and call it a day against a physical Canadian team.
Samoa edged a plucky Scotland 12-5, and South Africa looked superb in beating Wales 26-0.
South Africa looks outstanding, with Cornal Hendricks and Chris Dry pummeling tacklers. Samoa is mercurial, but could put it all together again.
For the USA, there is much at stake. All the teams they are near in the rankings are near them in the knockout rounds.
Spain, while in the Bowl Rounds, won and will be in the Bowl Semis. Still, the USA is guaranteed to leave them behind and move up a spot. They will pass Portugal, guaranteeing 13th. If they beat win the Plate and Scotland loses their Plate Semi, the USA could tie Scotland for 12th. They could also gain ground on Canada, Australia and England.
Some superb matchups beckon fans on Sunday. The USA plays Canada in the Plate Semis at 10:48am. Early on Kenya takes on Australia in the Shield Semis. And the semis: New Zealand v. Fiji and Samoa v. South Africa. Any rugby fan would love that.
Scores from Friday and Saturday
32 South Africa 26 - 0 Wales QF Cup
31 Samoa 12 - 5 Scotland QF Cup
30 New Zealand 17 - 0 Canada QF Cup
29 Fiji 21 - 19 United States QF Cup
28 Kenya 17 - 21 France QF Bowl
27 Australia 21 - 26 England QF Bowl
26 Argentina 24 - 0 Uruguay QF Bowl
25 Portugal 0 - 12 Spain QF Bowl
24 Spain 7 - 22 United States Pool D
23 New Zealand 17 - 5 Argentina Pool C
22 Kenya 5 - 15 South Africa Pool B
21 England 0 - 14 Scotland Pool A
20 Samoa 28 - 7 Australia Pool D
19 France 14 - 17 Wales Pool C
18 Canada 36 - 0 Uruguay Pool B
17 Fiji 21 - 14 Portugal Pool A
16 Samoa 12 - 7 United States Pool D
15 Australia 14 - 24 Spain Pool D
14 Argentina 14 - 12 France Pool C
13 New Zealand 40 - 5 Wales Pool C
12 South Africa 17 - 5 Canada Pool B
11 Kenya 12 - 7 Uruguay Pool B
10 Scotland 12 - 14 Fiji Pool A
9 England 5 - 21 Portugal Pool A
8 Australia 26 - 7 United States Pool D
7 Samoa 19 - 12 Spain Pool D
6 Argentina 7 - 17 Wales Pool C
5 New Zealand 21 - 0 France Pool C
4 South Africa 45 - 0 Uruguay Pool B
3 Kenya 12 - 19 Canada Pool B
2 Scotland 12 - 10 Portugal Pool A
1 England 17 - 26 Fiji Pool A
33 Portugal 0 - 0 Uruguay SF Shield
34 Australia 0 - 0 Kenya SF Shield
35 Spain 0 - 0 Argentina SF Bowl
36 England 0 - 0 France SF Bowl
37 United States 0 - 0 Canada SF Plate
38 Scotland 0 - 0 Wales SF Plate
39 Fiji 0 - 0 New Zealand SF Cup
40 Samoa 0 - 0 South Africa SF Cup
41 Winner Game 33 0 - 0 Winner Game 34 Final Shield
42 Winner Game 35 0 - 0 Winner Game 36 Final Bowl
43 Winner Game 37 0 - 0 Winner Game 38 Final Plate
44 Loser Game 39 0 - 0 Loser Game 40 Third Place
45 Winner Game 39 0 - 0 Winner Game 40 Final Cup