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The USA came out of the Hong Kong 7s with only one victory out of five, but crucially ten more points in the IRB Standings, and, less tangibly, some fine performances.
Perhaps their worst game was their 15-10 loss to Scotland, a game where a rain deluge just at kickoff played into the hands of the more experienced Scots.
Still, their 1-2 record was good enough to get them into the Cup
Quarterfinals on points difference thanks to a determined loss to New
Zealand. The 17-7 scoreline was much, much closer than Scotland or Samoa
was able to do.
The Cup Quarters were unkind to the Eagles, but the Americans displayed plenty to crow about. After going down 12-0 to Fiji, they mustered a series of impressive attacks, with Mike Palefau powering his way in from long range (and needing a bit of a lie down afterward).
Mike Te'o showed off his abilities in setting up Danny Barrett for what was almost a try in the corner - he was tackled into touch. Zack Test looked close to scoring and Brett Thompson seemed to have scored, but the ref and the in-goal judge were unsighted, and the video showed nothing. It was a shame, and a bit of bad luck, because that try could have tied the game.
In the end Fiji scored a lucky one late to win a game where the USA had showed themselves to be able to play and to not let a game get away from them.
In the final game of the weekend, the USA got within a try of South Africa,
but three first-half Blitzbokke tries put them in a hole. Once again,
though, they showed resilience. Barrett and Madison Hughes set up Matyas
for a long-range try. Then Garrett Bender pushed off some attention and
linked with Brett Thompson for another. Then Nick Edwards scored with
seconds remaining. They had a shot to win it, but didn't.
So some learning experience for the USA, but one in which, while the victories weren't there, the mental toughness seemed to be.
The USA moved two points closer to Scotland for 12th in the standings, and really are no longer in any danger of being passed by Portugal or Spain. Spain is almost guaranteed to be relegated next year, with the promotion tournament winners, Japan, taking their place next season.
Notes: Zack Test scored four tries in Hong Kong, and the first one put him over 90 for his career. Test now has 93 - easily the most of any USA player - and has an excellent shot at getting to 100 before the season is out.
Test is also the top all-time points-scorer for the USA, with 447 in 42 tournaments.
Canada continues to play well, making the Cup Quarterfinals for the fourth tournament in a row, and passing Argentina to now sit 7th in the World Series. They are a point behind slumping Samoa.
John Moonlight continues to be their go-to guy on offense, but the big, hard-charging team has done a good job throughout the squad in shocking teams early. They seemed to fade a bit in Hong Kong, and will rue the last-second try by Paul Asquith that put Australia past Canada into the Cup Semis.