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Things went just about as well for the USA Men on Friday in Las Vegas as they could have. They are all-but through to the cup quarterfinals after two wins from two matches, beating Samoa 24-12 and Chile 31-0.
Danny Barrett was one of the standouts tonight. He scored three tries against Samoa and another against Chile. “It might be the best I’ve ever played,” said Barrett, in a manner that suggested part but not all of his tongue was planted in his cheek.
“We’re doing alright. Against Samoa we started out really well. We don’t know much about Chile, so what they threw at us was pretty good.” In terms of looking forward, “Get home, watch the film, recover, get ready for England. They’re pretty straight forward, the same kind of style, so hopefully we can take it to them.”
Another player whose value continues to rise for the Eagles is Stephen Tomasin. “Tomasin is growing into the role, isn’t he?” commented coach Mike Friday. “He’s a young man, he’s had a few setbacks. He’s starting to understand where he fits into the team. He does everything to allow everybody else to operate. [Tomasin] is glue. Every good team needs glue.”
Friday was also complimentary about Walt Elder’s debut and Pat Blair’s try against Chile. “Pat Blair has been fantastic for our squad, and he sometimes doesn’t get the respect he deserves,” said Friday.
When asked about Barrett’s evening, Friday’s praise was qualified. “He gave up a silly penalty in the game against Chile. That’s why he got pulled off. I strive for perfection with Danny Barrett because of the player he is and the respect I hold him in. It’s about maintaining composure of behaviors at critical times.”
But Friday was quite positive about the evening’s work. He was “Really, really pleased with nilling Chile. What pleases me is the energy and enthusiasm when we were up 31-0. They are the little wins I want to see.”
When asked about playing England tomorrow, Friday, who is English and coached the England 7s team, said, “It’s just another game for me. It’s always special playing in Vegas with the USA, I don’t care who we play.” “It’s going to be a big game. We both go into that game know we’re in the quarter finals and we’re playing for seeding. Business is about getting into the cup quarterfinals first and foremost. We’re not quite there yet. We’ll come up with a plan for what we need to do as well as be reflective about ourselves, what went well and what didn’t go well and what could go better.”
The squad Friday selected is a big, physical group, and they looked good in their first two matches. A win against England should both set them up well for the quarterfinals and add to the current level of confidence. With Ben Pinkleman looking good returning to the squad, Tomasin playing with high levels of confidence and skill, and veterans like Barrett, Madison Hughes, Folau Niua, and Perry Baker continuing to play their roles well, the Eagles are set up for a good weekend.