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Through two days, the Eagles are enjoying an epic, and potentially historic, USA 7s. The Eagles have only made the semifinals of USA 7s once before – in San Diego in 2009.
The tournament is in rarified air when compared to the Eagles performances in not just the United States, but anywhere in the world. They have only been to the Cup semis three times before – Adelaide in 2010, San Diego in 2009 and Wellington in 2001.
Should the Eagles beat New Zealand in Sunday’s final, it’ll mark their first ever over the All Blacks, and the USA’s second Cup final appearance all time.
That’s all reflective big picture stuff. On a more focused level, Saturday’s Cup quarterfinal win over Canada was comprehensive. The Canadians really only had one threatening run all game, and very little possession in the attacking end.
Even after his team’s 52-12 throttling of Japan Friday, USA coach Mike Friday found something to complain about. He was harder pressed to find something to criticize at the end of Saturday.
“What was most important to me was the resilience of the boys. We learned some harsh lessons last week in 60 seconds, and they didn’t let it happen again, and that’s what I want,” said Friday, referencing the USA’s Cup quarterfinal loss to Scotland in which the Eagles squandered a 15-point lead in the final two minutes of the match.
“I want that mental resolve, that resilience, that kind of hard-nosed mentality that we’re not going to let people past, and we showed that, because we didn’t have the ball for the first two minutes. We were disciplined, we were organized, we bided our time, and when we got the ball we made it count.”
Awaiting the Eagles in the Cup semifinal is a team the USA’s going to have to post another complete game against to come out victorious. New Zealand is back in top form after a relatively slow start for the perennial champions – one which still had the All Blacks in second place coming into the weekend.
“New Zealand’s one of the best teams in the world, and if you give them [an inch], they’re going to jump all over you,” said Zack Test. “We’re going to just control possession, play our game, make our tackles, put them under pressure, have them make mistakes and jump on them.”
The Eagles aren’t scared of anyone, evidenced clearly by their draw with Series-leading South Africa in the pool finale Saturday. But New Zealand is a little different, right?
“We’ve played New Zealand already, and to be fair, we lived with them for 10 minutes as well,” said Friday.
“We were probably an immature team then, and they’re a relatively young side, so we’ll let them worry about us, and we’ll just concentrate on what we’re doing and we’ll focus on what we need to do with our game to try and put up a performance to give them something to worry about.”