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The heavens opens and God did not smile on the USA 7s team Saturday in Hong Kong, as the Eagles lost 15-10 to Scotland in a deluge.
The loss put the USA at 1-1 in their pool with New Zealand still to come.
The lights were on before noon in Hong Kong, with the sky so dark it looked like nighttime. And then, when the USA and Scotland took the field, the clouds opened and deposited a flood of rain onto the players. Scotland knew immediately what they needed to do - keep the passes close and win the field position game. The USA lost that battle.
Early on the Eagles had the ball but turned it over. Smart short passes by the Scots eventually produced a try for Mark Bennett. Bennett scored again later in the half. This time the try came from a USA mistake deep in Scottish territory. The Eagles had the ball thanks to some smart play from Madison Hughes, but when Danny Barrett was caught racing to the corner, he tried to keep the movement going with a pass back inside. That pass was intercepted by Bennett, who raced downfield, passed to Lee Jones when Zack Test caught him, and then received the return pass when Test turned his attention to Jones.
Forcing the issue didn't work out well for the Eagles, but they did well after that. Defensive pressure produced a mistake in the ruck by Scotland. The ball rolled out of the ruck to the feet of Nick Edwards, he passed out to Pono Haitsuka who scored to make it 10-5.
In the second half, the USA kicked off and Haitsuka might have done better to kick deep and hope for a knock-on. Instead he tried a perfect kick and the poor bounce off the sodden turf meant the kick didn't go ten meters. Scotland muffed a prime scoring chance after that with a forward pass that didn't need to be made, but eventually they did score, with James Johnston exploiting the fact that USA tacklers were sliding off the wet Scottish jerseys.
Down 15-10 with two minutes to go the Eagles didn't seem to have enough urgency to score early. Still, with subs Mike Palefau and Andrew Durutalo providing fresh legs, they set up a try for Zach Test.
But Scotland held the ball after the restart, and held on 15-10.
This makes making the Cup Quarterfinals very tough for the USA. What they need is for Samoa to beat Scotland, and, if we expect the USA to lose to New Zealand, they need the combined New Zealand winning margin and Samoa winning margin to be less than 42.
Tries: Haitsuka, Test
Tries: Bennett 2, Johnstone