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Blaine Scully celebrating a try against Japan. Rene Merideth photo

Blaine Scully had about as good a game as you can have in a loss Saturday, running in three tries in his native California in a 37-29 deafeat to Japan. With ball in hand, he proved difficult for any one Brave Blossom to bring down, and he worked hard off the ball to put himself in position to capitalize on the breaks of his teammates.  

The former Cal Bear and current Leicester Tiger got his first try after Chris Wyles picked up a Japanese mishandle, broke a tackle and dished to him. Wyles put Scully away for his third with a no-look pass, and former Cal teammate Danny Barrett sprung him free for his second.

“It shows the quality of player he is,” said Scully of Wyles. “It’s my job to support him, to put myself in a position where I can finish that, and that’s my responsibility. But he showed the quality of player he is, Danny showed the quality of player he is, and it was my job to finish that.”

With Scully’s hat-trick coming in a loss, it’s the one try he didn’t score, or didn’t help his team score, that haunts him. Very early in the contest, Scully forced his way through and past several Japanese tacklers before finally being dragged down near the attacking five-meter line. On his way to the ground, Scully had the ball ripped from his grasp, ending a very threatening drive for the Eagles.

“I’m not happy with that. I lost another one in contact,” said Scully. “Those are hard things to lose, when you have someone on the back foot and you give them a get-out-of-jail-free card by turning the ball over in contact, so not very happy with that.”

The result isn’t just bittersweet for Scully, but the whole team. The Eagles, which had scored three or more tries in four straight contests before being held out of in-goal entirely by Scotland last week, got back on track with four touch downs. And the USA’s defense was outstanding at times. But they made enough mistakes to let the Blossoms take the victory.

“Obviously, it’s frustrating. We scored four tries, which is a positive, but it’s hard to take moral victories out of test matches. Was it a better performance than last week? Yeah, but we’re going to have to improve in a lot of areas,” said Scully.

“We get (Japan) in the World Cup again next year, and we’re going to have to keep on building and keep on working those moments where these lapses put us under pressure and we’re just reeling from that, and we’re not able to sustain the pressure we’re putting them under. You have to take the positives out of every game, and we have a lot of work-ons as well. We’ll go over the tape, and hopefully we’ll be ready for Canada.”