The USA Men's Eagle Sevens team had a rough start in the Hong Kong Sevens facing off against Series leaders and USA Sevens Cup finalists New Zealand first on day one of the world famous tournament. A 5-29 score line was a loss surely, but the USA under new coach Alex Magleby looked more confident on attack than in previous stops and are heading in the right direction.
Defense is still a work in progress, but that is something the team is aware of and is targeting. Considering the last time the USA played NZ in Dubai the Kiwis shut out the Eagles 40-0, improvements have certainly been made.
The lone USA score came after Peter Tiberio stepped Tomasi Cama (which is no small feat) and offloaded to Zack Test who gathered well and fell in contact to score.
Rocco Mauer, a former All-American and the pride of Bowling Green State University, made his IRB Sevens debut against New Zealand and certainly made an impact. He saved a New Zealand score by flooring it for 30 meters and cutting Kiwi talisman Tomasi Cama off for a sure try. Moments later, Cama replied when Mauer was inches away from a full field break. The New Zealander clipped Mauer's heels and knocked him out of bounds to end the game. It was a shining debut for the Cleveland native who was only on the field for 90 seconds and made two very positive contributions.
Two of New Zealand's tries came straight from restarts, one of which was scored not 60 seconds after Test's score. That will be a focus area for the Eagles for the remainder of the Hong Kong tournament and beyond.
More execution on attack and upping communication on defense may go a long way against South Africa and Wales on day two.
The USA v. South Africa game kicks off on Friday March 23 at 8:58 p.m. Mountain/10:58 p.m. Eastern and USA v. Wales gets underway on Saturday March 24 at 2:06 a.m. Mountain/4:06 a.m. Eastern.
For live updates from Hong Kong, follow USA Rugby on Twitter (@usaeaglesrugby) and Facebook.
New Zealand 29
Tries: Jackman, Visinia, Mikkelson, Cama, Piutau
Cons: Cama (2)
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