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The High School All Americans are still learning a little about 7s rugby, but they showed some excellent play at times during the High School International 7s at the Las Vegas Invitational Friday.
Led by the electric running of Hawaiian player Nu'u Aiava, the HSAA team turned a few days of 7s practice into some impressive victories. They handled a seasoned Dog River Howlers, and then exploded against Utah.
Aiava was central to the team's efforts, with his excellent sidestepping ability, but it was also a team effort. The HSAA was able to move the ball swiftly and unselfishly, and that was key for them.
Meanwhile the HSAA 2nds rebounded from a loss to the Washington state all-stars with a comeback win over Ontario. Down 17-5, the HSAA 2nds stormed back to beat a more experienced Ontario squad. A brilliant cover tackle from Stratton Brown stopped Ontario from scoring what could have been a back-breaker. Ontario still had a scrum five meters out, but a dropped ball bounced true for Brown, who streaked 90 meters for the try.
"When you feel the momentum turning you get that confidence," said HSAA 2nds captain Tupou Aagard. "We started playing more aggressively and more as a team."
The Americans scored twice more, showcasing some impressive pace, to win.
But more important than that, the very young HSAA program showed improvement, and showed they can learn.
Head Coach Salty Thompson left home his oldest players, on agreement with the British Columbia team.
BC, for their part, looked outstanding. They play a very polished game and showed that with interest against a good Washington team, taking their cross-border rivals apart.
Boys High School International Scores
HS All Americans 29-10 Dog River Howlers
British Columbia 2 15-7 Utah
British Columbia 2 27-0 Dog River
HS All Americans 38-0 Utah
British Columbia 17-10 Ontario
Washington 28-17 HS All Americans 2
British Columbia 33-0 Washington
HS All Americans 22-17 Ontario