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After a hard-earned win that put the United States through for its fourth-straight semifinal appearance at the USA Sevens in Las Vegas, the Eagles are excited to play Fiji in the next round and are focused on winning the cup.
Following the win over England, Perry Baker said, “We knew those guys would fight until the end. We watched them play South Africa and they were down early and they fought all the way to the end. Last year, the same thing, we were beating them 19–0 and they came back and tied it in pool play. We knew they would fight until the end and we just wanted to stay and arm wrestle and continue to fight also and we got a W.”
Captain Ben Pinkelman echoed his teammate, saying, “We started really well and stuck to the plan in the first half. At the very end of the first half, we fell off a little bit, and in the second half we faltered a little bit too and just held on enough. Coming into this next game we have to stick to the plan a little longer and finish it going a whole 14 minutes staying on track.”
History is working against the Eagles at the USA Sevens as they have not escaped the semifinal round for the last three years. “We just want to do it for each other,” Baker said. “We came here three times and lost in the semis and we want to come out tomorrow and put on a show and definitely win. We want to play in the finals and we want to get that cup on our home soil.”
“It’s something we knew coming into this that we made the semifinals three years in a row, and its something we have talked about,” Pinkelman continued. “It’s all about taking that next step and we need to take that next step as a program. It is different this year, our mentality coming into it.... Even though you are putting 100% out there, there is that mentality of knowing this is your moment and you are going for the cup and I think we have that this year.
The USA is 1-1 against Fiji this season and won the last meeting in the quarterfinals in Sydney, 24-7. “Fiji is an incredibly tough team to play and everyone knows that,” Pinkelman said. “We just have to hold our shape and not let them get any of those breaks through the middle of us. Just push them to the outside of us and try to hold out them out for as long as we can. When we get the ball, we have to be ruthless.
Baker said that the USA has to do the basics to win tomorrow. “Stay in the fight, make sure we are passing the ball accurately, and stay communicating with each other. We know Fiji passes amazingly and when you think they are being tackled, they are not. We just got to stay flat in the lines and trying to control the ball.”
Lastly, on the dust up at the end of the England game, Baker wrapped it up completely. “It’s the game of rugby. It’s exciting.”