The Eagles came out and went right at Fiji in the Plate Final of London 7s, running one off the ruck directly into contact, and they were in the contest until the final minute, but ultimately came up short 14-5.
The USA managed to work the ball into Fiji’s end with a confrontational game plan, but too much contact resulted in a knock on. Fiji, seemingly frustrated by the USA’s flooding of offload channels, returned the favor.
The sloppy play continued, with both teams spilling the ball, dropping poor passes and being shoved into touch until Fiji cleared a kick into the American end. Shalom Suniula wound up with the ball and got isolated when trying to dance through the Fijian defense, and Donasio Ratubuli scooped up a desperate offload attempt and ran it in. Emosi Mulevoro converted.
Fiji nearly made it a two-score lead right on halftime, but Brett Thompson made a try-saving tackle that forced a knock'-on inches from pay dirt. The Eagles won the scrum and cleared to touch to end the half.
The Eagles mounted just their second threatening possession of the game at the onset of the second half, but a Folau Niua knock-on ended the drive. Fiji then extended the lead with a converted try after a couple of penalties gave them prime attacking platform.
With time winding down, Carlin Isles came on and blew past a couple of Fijian defenders and turned the corner for the Americans’ first score of the game. The conversion was missed, leaving USA down two scores with less than 90 seconds to play.
The Eagles nearly scored again at the death, despite two professional fouls from Fiji, but it would have been moot anyway. The game ended with a knock-on, and the Eagles end the season having edged Canada to finish 11th in the IRB Sevens World Series, beaten South Africa in back'-to'-back tries, won 2/3 against Fiji, reached three-straight Cup Quarterfinals and five in total.
This performance in London did one more thing - amazingly, after all the talk from observers about what Canada is doing right and the USA is doing wrong, the Eagles have passed Canada in the World Series standings. The USA earned 12 points by making the Plate Final, giving them 71 for the season. Canada lost in the Bowl Semis, giving them 5 for the tournament, and 69 for the season.
After being in danger of relegation, the USA has ended up not 13th, and not 12th, but actually 11th.
Tries: Ratabuli Naturaga, Cakau
Convs: Mulevoro, Baleviani Raqamate