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Argentina proved the class of the field at Halloween 7s over the weekend, going 5-0 en route to the Cup title. The Jaguars beat the Canadian Maple Leafs, essentially Canada’s top side, 38-12 in the final. They led by just two at the half, but the Maple Leafs wilted in the second.
USA Rugby’s two sides – the Hawks, essentially the Eagles, and the Falcons – had polar weekends. The Maple Leafs needed overtime to put down the Falcons in the semifinals and beat them by a single score in pool play. Not bad for a hodge podge American side with little experience playing together.
The Hawks, on the other hand, fell twice to the Maple Leafs, making it essentially three-straight losses to the Canadians dating back to the Pan-Am Games. And the Falcons gave them all they could handle in the consolation final, leaving Mike Friday’s charges with much improvement to make prior to the World Series kickoff in December.
The all-star American sides had mixed experiences, but avoided huge losses, providing the international sides plenty of good looks. Denver, which won just one game all weekend, led Argentina 14-0 at halftime in one game and boasted a late lead over the Falcons in another. New York scored the best record of all domestic all-star sides, going 3-2 and winning the bowl.
Below are all the results from the tournament and recaps from the Cup semis and final.
CUP FINAL: ARGENTINA 38-12 MAPLE LEAFS
Axel Muller opened the scoring for Argentina, taking turnover ball from a wayward Phil Mack pass under the posts. The conversion was converted, and Argentina took a 7-0 lead.
Canada caught a break when Nathan Hirayama was tackled in the attacking end near the sideline and the ball came out of his possession forward into touch. The touch judge awarded a lineout to the Maple Leafs, and Sean Duke scored off the set piece. The conversion was missed, and Argentina clung to a 7-5 lead.
Argentina yanked the ball from Canada in a breakdown not long after the ensuing kickoff, and Bautista Ezcurra scampered in for a score. Hirayama rebutted before the half with a try and conversion, pulling the Maple Leafs within two at 14-12 going into the half.
Argentina broke away immediately in the second half when Fernando Luna scored easily by peeling off a lineout and bursting up field. Converted, the score pushed the difference to 21-12. German Schulz added a try off another lineout play, and seconds later, following the restart, Muller tacked on one more to shut the gate. Gaston Revol dotted down at the death to flatter the score line.
CONSOLATION: HAWKS 19-12 FALCONS
Maka Unufe came back from suspension and made an immediate impact, slicing through the Falcon midfield and feeding Perry Baker for the first try of the consolation match.
Will Holder made the play of the day, snatching an interception for a try the other way. Matai Leuta wound up and zip a pass in front of Holder’s face, but the Army man swatted the ball and managed to haul it in for the turnover. His try was converted, giving the Falcons the 7-5 lead.
Peter Tiberio dotted down not long after to regain the lead for the first side. He and Pat Blair found themselves with time and space on the wing, and a flurry of give-and-goes put Tiberio away for the score. It was converted, and the Hawks led 12-5.
Blair picked up a yellow card just before halftime, and the Falcons nearly capitalized on the power play, but Seth Halliman was blasted into touch by Leuta a handful of meters short of pay dirt.
The Falcons did convert early in the second half. Leuta was called for diving over in an early ruck, the Falcons went the other way and ConRoy Smith finished off the move with a try. Conversion missed, the score was tied 12-12.
The Hawks flipped the script next, taking a turnover from a penalty for a try. Alex Elkins was brought down in the attacking end, but he was pinged for holding on. Tiberio capped off a 60-plus-meter possession with the game winner.
SEMIFINAL: MAPLE LEAFS 22-17 FALCONS
The Falcons and Maple Leafs traded errors to start the game. The Americans made the first foray into the attacking end, but a penalty for holding on in a tackle about five meters from the try line ended the threat. Canada’s Phil Mack rushed the other way, darting into Falcon territory, but he didn’t have the pace to finish and his pass to help was knocked on.
The Maple Leaf’s would put it all together first, though, to take a 5-0 lead. A Nanyak Dala cut-out pass found the hands of Justin Douglas, and he was away for a try. The conversion attempt was missed.
Seth Halliman, currently of Central Washington and formerly of American International College, responded to put the Falcons on the board. He simply powered through a lazy tackle on a penalty play, scoring in the center of the field. The Americans extended the lead seconds later when Dala attempted a football pass from the seat of his pants, Andrew Durutalo intercepted it and offloaded to Will Holder for the score. The latter conversion was missed, giving the Falcons a 12-5 lead at halftime.
Holder added a second try at the onset of the second half. He was the recipient of a Ben Pinkelman offload after Colorado State product burst through a Mack tackle and soaked up another defender. The conversion was missed, but the Falcons led by two scores, 17-5.
The Maple Leafs crept back into it with Douglas’ second score. He caught a point blank offload from John Moonlight, who had picked and attacked weak from an attacking ruck. The conversion was again missed, leaving the Falcons up seven.
The lead evaporated with Douglas’ third try and a touch line conversion from Nathan Hirayama. The Falcons missed on a lineout in their own end, the Maple Leafs scooped up the loose ball and spun it wide to Douglas, who beat ConRoy Smith to the corner.
The Canadians recovered the restart and came up just a few feet short of pay dirt, but a game-saving cover tackle from Pinkelman forced overtime.
The Falcons couldn’t hold on, though, as Mack spurted through the American defense and fended Colton Cariaga off a penalty tap to score just seconds into extra time and take the win.
SEMIFINAL: ARGENTINA 15-0 HAWKS
Matai Leuta was penalized for playing an Argentine player in the air off the opening kickoff, and a quick-tap and sprint put the South Americans up 5-0 right away.
Argentina was gifted another great attacking opportunity when Carlin Isles knocked on a pass from Madison Hughes pass with his heels on his own try line. The Argentines crossed the line, but the ball carrier was bundled into touch in the process, preventing a score.
The Hawks looked like they were about to score early in the second half, but Hughes knocked on this time and gave Argentina the ball back. A clearance kick put the ball in the Falcon end, and an ill-advised Isles quick lineout throw to Perry Baker resulted in another knock-on, the Americans’ fifth of the game, and Argentine possession in the attacking end.
The Hawks, depleted injury to just 10 players, were plagued by fatigue, and an Argentine score with just under two minutes to play was too much for the Hawks to overcome. In the waning seconds, a poor pass from Leuta gave Argentina another score to flatter the score line.
|Cup Final||Argentina||38-12||Maple Leafs|
|Bowl Final||New York||41-5||Ohio|
|Cup SF||Maple Leafs||22-17||Falcons|
|Bowl SF||New York||24-10||Utah|
|Pool Play||Maple Leafs||27-21||Hawks|
|Pool Play||New York||26-10||Ohio|
|Pool Play||Maple Leafs||33-0||Ohio|
|Pool Play||Hawks||32-0||New York|
|Pool Play||Maple Leafs||25-14||New York|