A very disappointing weekend for the USA ended with a 19-14 loss to France in the Shield Semifinal. The Eagles led 14-0 at halftime, but collapsed in the second half. Coach Matt Hawkins went with a completely different starting lineup, giving Carlin Isles, Pono Haitsuka and Miles Craigwell their first starts of the tournament.
The Eagles took a direct approach early, pounding the ball forward. Nu’u Punimata made the final pick on the USA’s scoring driving, crashing over the line for the try and the lead. Folau Niua converted
The Eagles were allowed to play as sloppily as they wanted by an apparently apathetic French side. Pono Haitsuka, in his first start, was able to dance around and into the try zone to give the USA a two-try lead. Again, Niua converted.
France put some passes together at the end of the half and were one pass-catch away from the try line, but a knock on ended the half 14-0 in the Eagles favor. The French took the opening restart of the second stanza, however, and after a series of offloads Paul Albaladejo went in for the try.
Carlin Isles, desperate to get the ball with some space, kicked ahead for himself, but the ball dribbled out of bounds and back into French possession. Though France seemingly threw that possession away, advantage from a knock on was played, bringing the ball back for France well in its own end. Vincent Inigo took that possession in for a converted try, leaving the French down by a conversion.
The Eagles were then pinged for a penalty with just under 30 seconds on the clock, and France opted to run for a try instead of take a shot at goal for the win. It worked, as Albaladejo dummied Steven Tomasin en route to pay dirt.
Tries: Albaladejo 2, Inigo
Cons: Albaladejo 2
Tries: Punimata, Haitsuka
Cons: Niua 2