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The USA Falcons were the lone USA Rugby side to claim a title in Las Vegas on the weekend. They went a perfect 6-0 in the process, beating two French sides, two American teams, a Kiwi team and a Fijian outfit.
The Falcons were made up of guys who didn’t get selected by head coach Mike Friday for the main event, but many of whom have plenty of World Series experience, like Thretton Palamo, Matai Leuta and Shalom Suniula. Some of them performed well enough to earn the praise of Friday, and two will likely be called up to the Eagles for Vancouver, given the injuries to Maka Unufe and Will Holder.
“I think Pat Blair showed that dogged determination and was fighting hard for everything, showing the traits and behaviors that we want,” he said. “I like the look of Seth Halliman. I think he brings a good balance to the team in terms of his ability to play up front and his aerial skills. Also, he’s a quick man for a big guy… Peter Tiberio I thought did very, very well as well.”
In the final, the Falcons jumped out to an early lead via a former college football player. Ex-SMU defensive lineman Aaron Davis took the ball as the first receiver off a ruck, threw a hard dummy and bolted through a gap straight under the posts. Tiberio converted, and the Falcons led 7-0 after seven minutes.
The Frenchmen leveled the table in the ninth minute, exploiting a hobbled Tiberio, who attempted to make a tackle from his rear and appeared to suffer a shoulder injury in the process. He stayed on nonetheless.
The Falcons got the score back right on halftime when Ben Leatigaga made a shifty move up the touchline and dotted down in the corner. The conversion was missed, making it 12-7 to the USA at the break.
Midol went through several phases on its next possession, making the Falcons work sideline to sideline, eventually causing dismay in their defensive structure. A try in the corner was the result, and without a conversion, the leveling score.
Tiberio snatched the lead back for the Falcons with just over two minutes to play. The Froggies were penalized after a probing run by Joey Sok, and the former Arizona All-American tapped and sped around the Midol defense. His conversion attempt was missed, leaving the difference at five, which is how it would end.