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While they tackled relatively effectively, and they showed they have the athleticism to score, their execution in getting, retaining, and nurturing possession was distressing on Day One at the Gold Coast 7s.

They’ve had this problem before, but gifting as many as eight tries on the day is simply unacceptable.

Why did this happen? Well the team is new, with five players making their debut. That doesn’t excuse experienced players like Zack Test or Matt Hawkins from knocking the ball on under minimal pressure, or letting the ball roll out the back of the ruck eight meters from their tryline, but it IS a factor.

The team is getting to know each other. That’s still true, and we can expect them to learn more as this tournament goes on.

Not helping the cohesion is that the USA’s captain went down hurt, and you can see the difference in Shalom Suniula’s presence and absence in the scoreline – Suniula on the field against New Zealand and South Africa, USA 10, opponents 26; Suniula off the field against South Africa and Canada, USA 21, opponents 50.

But I can bet you if you asked all of the players how they played on Saturday, they would have far harsher words than I have. They know they can be, and should be, better.

Now here’s what they’re up against on Sunday in Queensland. They face Wales in the Bowl Quarterfinals at 6:14pm PT 9:14pm ET tonight. Then they take on either Spain or Tonga.

Wales is an excellent team (this is a really competitive series – note England is in the Bowl Round). And what about Spain? Spain has not been a rugby country anyone is all that worried about. Spain lost to Tiger Rugby in February at the Las Vegas Invitational. Spain doesn’t have big bruisers, or super speedy athletes. But Spain is a very good 7s team. Spain lost to England by the score of only 13-10, and to Kenya 26-12 in a game where it was 14-12 for most of the time.

Spain can play because they move the ball. When they see a gap they back themselves. Their support players get to the breakdown quickly. And their ball handling and ball security is first rate.

None of that stuff requires a special formula, it requires an attitude. Eagles, get on the ball. If the ball is won at the ruck, pick up the damned rock and let’s go! If you have speed and talent out wide, get him the ball in space, don’t cut back into traffic or run your teammate out of territory.

If you’re being held up in the tackle, get loose or get low. If you’re being isolated in the tackle, cut it out, back off, look for support. And when somebody hits you, hold on to the ball.

All of this can be fixed in a matter of hours. It takes a little mirror study; it takes some honest looks into each other’s eyes. Take the fight to them, don’t wait for it.

There is only one player from Saturday I can say really did this – someone who took the game to the opponents, and tried to make plays rather than worrying about making errors (which just leads to errors). His name is Tai Enosa. The rest need to catch up.