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The Men’s 7s Eagles welcomed Guyana for a three-halved scrimmage just after 11am Tuesday at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. Guyana arrived late to the OTC, and got limited warm-up time before taking the field.
Shalom Suniula, Peter Tiberio, Mike Palefau, Colin Hawley, Zack Test, Maka Unufe and Andrew Durutalo started the opening half, with Tiberio at scrumhalf and Suniula at flyhalf.
The kickoff was knocked on by Guyana, and the Eagles swung the ball wide off of a scrum to Maka Unufe, who dotted down for USA’s first try. Suniula hit the conversion, but it would be the only one of the session. Only one try zone had uprights.
Guyana botched the next restart, too, and the Eagles scored their second try when Durutalo soaked up multiple defenders and offloaded to Test, who sprinted directly up the try line for the score.
Guyana scored its lone try of the game on its next possession. Miscommunication on the Americans’ part left a gap in the midfield, and Guyana shot through it to put the Eagles on their heels and eventually score.
Zack Test fielded the ensuing restart and screeched down the touch line for his second score. It appeared he may have stepped on the touch line, but no flag was raised.
At halftime, the Eagles led 17-5, having missed two conversions.
There were wholesale changes at intermission, as Mark Bokhoven, Rocco Mauer, Nick Edwards, Folau Niua, Miles Craigwell, Nu’u Punimata and Tai Enosa came on.
Mauer made the first break of the second half, and could potentially have beaten the last Guyanese defender for a try, but pulled the ball back and reset the offense. The Eagles took the ball into contact, and Punimata made a clever pass out of the ruck to Craigwell, who scored in the corner.
Bokhoven took the ensuing restart and ran deep into Guyana territory, but lost the ball in contact. USA’s defense pressured Guyana into a mistake, and Niua scored off of a scrum to put the Eagles up 27-5. This half, they did not have uprights to kick through.
Niua scored the next try, quick-tapping off of a Guyana ruck infringement, and Punimata cut against the grain on the outer third of the field to score USA’s final try of the second half.
JP Eloff got his first run in the third half, taking the field alongside Bokhoven, Tiberio, Niua, Palefau, Hawley and Unufe. Tiberio continued playing scrumhalf, and scored the first try, slicing through the midfield untouched for a score.
Tiberio then set up the next try by absorbing a huge tackle from the last Guyanese defender before slipping the ball to Eloff, who took it in for a score.
The Eagles’ organization unraveled a bit in the third period, with knock-ons and miscues increasing. Durutalo, Edwards, Punimata and Test subbed on to finish the game out, and Edwards scored the final try off of a scrum.
In total, the Eagles scored nine tries to Guyana’s one in 21 minutes of play.
The coaching staff saw Tiberio play a lot of scrumhalf in the exercise, probably attempting to fill the void left by Roland Suniula. With his brother, who played a lot of flyhalf, gone, Shalom could well slide over to first receiver.
Tiberio had a good showing in the day’s first training session, taking on the Guyana defense when needed, but not overdoing it, and delivering clean ball.
The Eagles overwhelmed Guyana in the restart, but Guyana should be in better form in the second round of scrimmages scheduled for 3pm PST. Follow @Pat_Clifton on Twitter for live updates.