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Team USA salvaged an otherwise disappointing weekend by winning the Shield Sunday at Sam Boyd Stadium. The Americans blanked Spain 31-0 in the final to finish the tournament 3-3. Two of the 15th-ranked Eagles’ wins came against Spain, putting a little more breathing room between them the 16th-ranked Spaniards.
The Eagles took the lead on their first possession, winning a lineout
inside their own 22. They spun it wide to Nick Edwards, who got the start
at wing. He fended one Spanish defender and cut back to beat another for
the long-range score. Folau Niua converted to put the USA up 7-0.
Shortly after Zack Test turned the ball over in a ruck, Stephen Tomasin came off with a knee injury, which he’d accrued in the Shield Semifinal. Nu’u Punimata subbed on in his place.
The Eagles took their new possession into the attacking end, again on the legs of Edwards, who this time was dragged down short of the try line. Following a penalty in the tackle, Niua skipped a pass over Spain’s last defender to a wide-open Brett Thompson for the score. Niua converted again, making it 14-0. Edwards was hurt in the tackle and replaced by Carlin Isles.
Zack Test added to the tally and his all-time USA try record just before the half when Punimata scooped up a loose ball and dished to him in space. The conversion was missed, making it 19-0 to the Eagles.
Carlin Isles extended the lead a couple of minutes into the second half as a pair of offloads from Andrew Durutalo and Shalom Suniula put him in a massive gap for a 60-meter try. Converted, it put the Eagles out 26-0.
Spain nearly got on the board in the final minute, but a last gasp defensive effort from Suniula forced a knock on. Off the ensuing scrum, Test launched a kick 40 meters up field, recovered it, and ran in for his second try at the death.
The Shield trophy is the Eagles’ second this season. They also went 3-3 and finished 13th in the season opener in Australia.
Tries: Test (2), Thompson, Isles, Edwards
Cons: Niua (2), Suniula