USA Sevens Men

Written by Alex Goff    Saturday, 26 November 2011 16:16    PDF Print Write e-mail
Caravelli: Errors Will be Corrected
Sevens - USA Sevens Men

USA 7s team Head Coach Al Caravelli didn’t have to be told why his team didn’t perform better at the Gold Coast 7s, and he didn’t have to be told, either, that the line between a good tournament and an iffy one is a thin one, indeed.

“We came very close to beating South Africa,” Caravelli told “Against the top teams in the world the margins are very close. They needed to bring in Cecil Afrika to bring them back, and if we'd played in Pan-Ams the way we played against South Africa, we would have won gold. So the silver lining is we continue to improve.”

But the coach also saw his team give any momentum they had away to Australia, and again, on the second day, to Scotland.

Numina Photo“Overall in the tournament we made too many individual errors, and that cost us,” he said. Those errors were magnified against Scotland and Australia.”

There were moments. Mike Palefau looked spry as he tested defenses repeatedly. He didn’t get enough ball, but he played superbly at times. Zack Test was all over the field.
The tries the USA did give up were often based on a series of errors – penalties, turnovers. Even the missed tackles usually came after another type of error gave the opposition something to build on.
“Defensively our structure was good and our organization was strong,” said Caravelli.

But … there was the issue of those restarts. That, as outlined in the latest Eagle Eye Column, cost the USA severely as restart mistakes turned attacking opportunities for the USA into the same for the opposition.

“The restarts were a problem,” explained Caravelli. “We made five restart errors, the most of any team in the tournament. We made three all of last year. It is not only a change in momentum, it takes us out of our game. Testy is one of the best in the game at getting the kickoffs in the air, and we take him out of the game. That absolutely cannot happen, it's a mental issue, and those errors are unacceptable. They will be corrected this week before we open up against New Zealand in Dubai.”

On the positives, all the players got significant time.

“Our depth is being tested already this season, and early, with the injuries we've had,” Caravelli said. “So I wanted to use as many subs as possible. No player played every minute of every game, so we were able to rotate around subs and get to see players like Duncan Kelm and Tai Enosa and see what they could do.

Nick Edwards has been away from 7s for over a year, coming back from injury, so he needs time to ease into it.”

And now, with Dubai and Port Elizabeth ahead, "we want to keep improving. We want to go forward, not backward. We need to support our line breaks, working in groups of three, not two, shore up those individual errors and  - the handling errors - and correct those restarts. And we will start working on all of those as soon as possible.”

Written by Alex Goff    Saturday, 26 November 2011 01:16    PDF Print Write e-mail
Mistakes Cost USA against Scotland
Sevens - USA Sevens Men

The USA’s Gold Coast 7s ended in the Bowl Semis with a less-than-perfect 19-5 loss to Scotland.

The USA started the game – for the second game in a row – with an error on the kickoff. Shalom Suniula’s kickoff went out on the full giving Scotland a free kick at midfield.

The Scots did very well to keep possession and while they were almost held up in the tackle, recycled to Sam Hidalgo-Clyn, who sneaked over in the corner to make it 5-0 Scotland.

Scotland retained ball from their own restart, and came close to scoring twice. Excellent tackles from Mark Bokhoven and Zack Test kept the score at 5-0. Finally the USA got the ball, but their attacking attempts left too many players isolated.

Folau Niua made a big break that looked promising, and he hooked up with Mike Palefau. But the return pass went to ground, and from that turnover Scotland worked the ball to Ross Miller, who sidestepped past a poor Bokhoven effort to score under the posts.

That made it 12-0 at halftime. At the break, USA Head Coach Al Caravelli wasn’t pleased, telling his players they needed to support each other. If you’re tired, said the coach, let me know and we’ll sub you off. Clearly not thrilled with the effort level, Caravelli watched his team lose possession on the restart once again, and Miller punched through to make it 19-0.

The Eagles finally did get something going, but it was very late. Two good runs from Peter Tiberio set up Folau Niua to grubber through for Colin Hawley, who grabbed the ball, pushed off his tackler, and scored.

But the USA restart again didn’t go ten meters, and it just seemed like those little issues – mistakes and penalties, put the USA in the situation of beating themselves.

The USA gets five World Series points, and finish the tournament 2-3, but they will look back at each of those losses and see how they weren’t so much beaten as beat themselves.

Notes: Al Caravelli used the same starting lineup in every game. Of those, Zack Test and Mike Palefau were the most consistent. The USA made five restart errors (kick out on full or not 10 meters), the most of any team in the tournament. Given that the Eagles pride themselves on their ability to retain their kickoffs, giving the opposition a free kick when they should have been on the attack certainly hurt them.


Tries: Hawley
Lineup: Hawkins, Test, Bokhoven, Suniula, Niua, Palefau, Edwards
Subs: Hawley, Enosa, Tiberio, Kelm, Craigwell (not used)

Scotland 19
Tries: Hidalgo-Clyne, Miller 2
Convs: Gregor
Lineup: Riddell, Eddie, Gregor, Horne, Turnbull, Hidalgo-Clyne, Miller
Subs: Fedo, Gossman, Ashe, Fleming

Written by Alex Goff    Friday, 25 November 2011 22:12    PDF Print Write e-mail
USA Into Bowl Semis
Sevens - USA Sevens Men

The USA is in to the Bowl semifinals after beating Papua New Guinea 24-5 Saturday at the Gold Coast 7s.

Shalom Suniula a try-scorer for the USA. Ian Muir photoThe Eagles weathered a couple of small mistakes, especially after their own kickoffs, but played smart, team 7s rugby to win fairly comfortable.

The game started with a trick play, as the Eagles opted for a kick off to the right wing for Nick Edwards. But Shalom Suniula’s kickoff didn’t go ten meters, giving PNG a free kick.

The USA defense was good, however, and after getting the ball back, the Americans went all the way to the opposing tryline. Edwards was involved twice, including at the end, where he was held up in-goal.

But that just meant a five-meter scrum for one of the best scrum teams in the Sevens World Series. The USA won the strike and spun it wide, where Shalom Suniula eventually scored.

Up 5-0, the USA made another mistake on the kickoff. Zack Test nabbed the ball in the air, but the Eagles were pinged for an offense in the ruck that they shouldn’t have committed and PNG quick-tapped and 65 meters later Dougie Guise was in at the corner. That made it 5-5, but any thoughts of an upset for PNG were ended seconds later. Test went up again for the kickoff and was taken out in the air by Shadrach Ghabiliha. That earned the PNG player a yellow card, and the USA did well to take advantage. They were patient with the ball and worked both sidelines before Matt Hawkins made the key run. Test did well to recycle and then Mike Palefau drew two defenders and fed Edwards, who walked over.

That made it 10-5 at halftime, and right after the second half begun, and still up a man, the USA made it 17-5.

This time it was simple ball movement that gave Palefau a sniff of a gap and he beat three men to go in from 35 out.

PNG made their best break of the second half after that, but some excellent perimeter defense from Mark Bokhoven forced a lineout deep in the USA half. The Eagles took a quick lineout and worked their way downfield. A long pass from Suniula was caught by Edwards on the bounce, and he did the rest to make it 24-5.

PNG had one more shot, but the USA defense held, and they happily took the win and now face Scotland in the Bowl semis.

The win guarantees the USA at least five points in the HSBC Sevens World Series. Beating Scotland will give them seven, and a Bowl Win eight.

Notes: The experimental sub rules in effect for this tournament allow teams to use all five subs. USA Head Coach Al Caravelli has taken full advantage. He has started the same seven players for all four games so far, and used all his subs as well, ensuring game time and experience for his newer players.

The USA plays Scotland at 12:50am ET, 9:50pm Friday night PT

USA 24
Tries: Edwards 2, Suniula, Palefau
Convs: Niua 2
Lineup: Hawkins, Test, Bokhoven, Suniula, Niua, Palefau, Edwards
Subs: Tiberio, Craigwell, Hawley, Kelm, Enosa

Tries: Guise
Lineup: Diave, Ghabiliha, Guise, Tokavai, McLay, Kautu, Levi
Subs: Torea, Kakah, Liliket, Missian, Varo

Written by Alex Goff    Friday, 25 November 2011 14:30    PDF Print Write e-mail
Close But No Cup Round for Eagles
Sevens - USA Sevens Men

The USA 7s team will play Papua New Guinea in the Bowl Quarterfinals Saturday (local time) at the Gold Coast 7s.

It’s a game they should expect to win, putting them in a tough match in the Bowl Semis, against either Scotland, or Niue.

The good news is, this year points are on offer on every game, making every lower-bracket match that much more important. The frustrating news is, the Eagles know they have the ability to make it to the Cup Quarterfinals.

While controlling the match against Japan and winning 21-0, the USA didn’t tackle the way they can or handle the ball the way they can to beat Australia. What rankles more, perhaps, is they lost a game against South Africa they felt they deserved to win.

"It was a shame we lost that game," said USA Head Coach Al Caravelli, who, so said Nigel Starmer-Smith, had issue with a call at the end of the game. "It was very harsh to lose in the way that we did."

Caravelli said the team is not taking Papua New Guinea lightly – it would be unwise to do so, certainly.”

"PNG is a team that is physical and tackles like crazy," Caravelli said.

The Eagles take on PNG at 9:44pm ET Friday night , 6:44pm PT.

The rest of their day pans out as follows:

Game 1 USA v Papua New Guinea 9:44pm Fri 6:44pm Fri

Win Game 1 USA v Scotland or Niue 12:50am Sat 9:50pm Fri

Win Bowl Final 3:30am Sat 12:30am Sat
Lose No Game

Lose Game 1 USA v Scotland or Niue 12:06am Sat 9:06pm Fri

Win Shield Final 3:00am Sat Midnight Sat
Lose No Game

Written by Pat Clifton    Friday, 25 November 2011 05:50    PDF Print Write e-mail
Eagles Shut Out Japan
Sevens - USA Sevens Men

The United States beat Japan 21-0 in the pool finale to go 1-2 in pool play at the Gold Coast and win its first match of the 2011/2012 IRB Sevens World Series.

The Eagles used the same starting lineup as the day's first two losses. The first several minutes saw no score from either side, and it wasn't until the sixth minute that Eagle flyhalf Folau Niua touched down to open scoring. Niua converted. 90 seconds later, scrumhalf Shalom Suniula added a try, converted by Niua, to push the Eagles up 14-0 at halftime.

The lone score of the second half came just after Al Caravelli's customary first substitution a couple of minutes into the second stanza. Reserve Colin Hawley recorded the score, converted by Niua, to give the Eagles the final lead of 21-0.

Tai Enosa, Miles Craigwell, Duncan Kelm and Peter Tiberio all came off the bench to end the game.

The Eagles will be open day two against winless Papua New Guinea in the Bowl Quarterfinals.  

USA 21
Tries: Niua, Suniula, Hawley
Convs: Niua 3

Lineup: Hawkins, Test, Bokhoven, Suniula, Niua, Palefau, Edwards
Subs: Hawley, Kelm, Tiberio, Craigwell, Enosa


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