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The USA did something they have never done before in Twickenham, as they beat South Africa 19-12 in their final pool match of the 2013 London 7s.
The highlight of the match was a game-sealing try by Carlin Isles that
electrified the crowd, but this was an exciting game all around.
The USA took the lead first. After a long period of defense, Nick Edwards shoved the Blitzbokke ballcarrier into touch. From that lineout the Americans could finally do something. A crucial ruck clearout by Andrew Durutalo left the ball waiting for Matt Hawkins.
The captain picked up and passed out to Brett Thompson, who wisely just drew the defense and passed to Zack Test.
Test made a move and was off down the sideline. Into the South African 22 by now, he saw too many defenders chasing him, and sent a long pass inside to Nick Edwards, who scored under the corner.
This was an important move, as Shalom Suniula had no trouble with the easy conversion. Conversions had hurt the USA against Australia, as Suniula was 0-3 in that game and they lost by four.
The Eagles had a couple of really good scoring opportunities after that, the best being Matt Hawkins picking up and running up the middle. But both times the USA player was isolated and ended up committing a penalty.
One more attack thanks to a good turnover in the ruck bit the Eagles in the tailfeathers. A poor pass from Suniula saw Hawkins leave the ball on the ground. Chris Dry booted it into space, and while Hawkins, amazingly almost made it to disrupt Dry, the South African managed to dive on the ball for the try right at halftime.
So the USA went into halftime up 7-5, but really should have been up 12-0. Head Coach Alex Magleby made it clear for his team "we play the game on our feet," he said. "We are making ourselves isolated and ruck penalties are killing us."
The Eagles started the second half well. Hawkins was bottled up in a tackle but was strong enough to make the ball available. Quick pass out to Suniula, who saw lots of South Africans to his right, and very few to his left, so he sent a kick left.
There was Durutalo, who juggled the bouncing ball a bit, but gathered it, dummied to Zack Test on his inside to commit the last defender, and then fed to Brett Thompson on his left. Thompson, a young player working his way onto the team, did exactly the right thing, and pinned his ears back to race to the corner.
Try for USA, and a superb conversion kick by Suniula made it 14-5.
Thompson almost made it 19-5. The big forward got the ball with space on the left and went for the corner again. He was tackled, and his feet were dragged just into touch as he stretched over to touch down. Lineout South Africa, and from there, a piece of brilliance. Cecil Afrika snaked through a gap, sent an impossibly long pass out to Dry, who links with WJ Strydom for a 100-meter try.
The kick was good, and the USA led 14-12.
Now there was not much time left. The Eagles knocked the ball on in the ruck, but forced a knock-on as well to get the ball back. With 20 seconds left, Zack Test got the ball deep in his half. He lofted a long kick to the sideline, and there was Isles, who had come on seconds before. The wing had a lot of work to do, but he gathered the rolling ball on the gallop, avoided two defenders, and ran in a try that brought the crowd to its feet.
It also secured the USA's first-ever victory over South Africa in international 7s.
The victory also secured a place in the Cup Quarterfinals for the USA, as they ended 2-1 and with a better points difference than the 2-1 South Africans. So regardless of whether Australia beat France or not, they have made it.
With the top eight coming out of three pools, it's likely both Australia and South Africa will also come out of Pool A.
Tries: Edwards, Thompson, Isles
Convs: Suniula 2
South Africa 12
Tries: Dry, Strydom