The Eagles fell to 0-2 Friday night with a 12-7 loss to Samoa. They were much more competitive in their second match than their first, and had the ball in hand with a chance to win it as time ran out, but couldn’t pull off the upset.
USA strung together a really strong attack, rucking cleanly and moving the ball through several sets of hands into the Samoan 22 before Matt Hawkins knocked on a pass that could have put him away. Samoa won the ensuing scrum and kicked to the corner, trying to pin the Eagles deep in their end.
USA moved the ball to the centers, and Blaine Scully kicked downfield for Isles, but the ball rolled out the back of the try zone giving Samoa a scrum at midfield. The Samoans went right off of the set piece, recycled and spun the ball back left leading to a Levi Asifa'amatala try. The conversion attempt was missed, making it 5-0 Samoa.
The ensuing restart went straight to touch. Folau Niua punched the free kick through a hole in the Samoan line and Zack Test picked up the rolling ball and ran in untouched for the try. Niua converted, putting the Eagles up 7-5, which is where they’d end the half.
Samoa knocked on the restart commencing the second half, giving Carlin Isles plenty of space to attack left of an American scrum, but the pass from Hawley to Scully was knocked on. Samoa then bungled its out pass, giving the ball back to the USA. Isles took the ball into contact and was turned over. Samoa then switched fields and Reupena Levasa scored the go-ahead try. Lolo Lui converted, making it 12-7.
Samoa tried to milk the clock with slow possession, but some tough rucking from Hawkins garnered a penalty against Samoa that gave the Eagles another shot. They went quick and swung the ball wide to reserve wing Rocco Mauer, who sprinted into Samoan territory. When pinned by two scrambling defenders, Mauer attempted a grubber, but duffed the ball into touch with precious few seconds left in the clock. Samoa fielded the lineout and ended the game.
USA tries to better its position going into the Bowl Quarterfinals in its final pool match Saturday against 1-1 Spain.
Tries: Asifa'amatala, Levasa