Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
Three missed conversions proved costly to the USA as they lost their opening pool game 24-22 to Samoa at the HSBC World Series George 7’s in South Africa. The game was a far cry from the 38-5 defeat the USA suffered to Samoa last week in the Quarterfinals in Dubai.
The USA came out of the games firing with tries from Mile Pulu and Matt Hawkins in the opening two minutes.
Samoa got on the scoreboard just before halftime with a try from Alafoti Fa’osiliva to cut the score to 10-5.
Samoa put their foot on the gas in the second half with three more unanswered tries to extend their lead to 24-10. As the game appeared headed towards a similar outcome to last week, Team USA regrouped with a try from Nu’u Punimata to cut the lead to 24-15 late in the second half.
After Samoa’s Apelu Fa’aiuga was sent to the sin bin, Miles Craigwell crossed over for another USA score well into extra-time. Shalom Suniula added the conversion, but it was too little, too late for the USA and a missed opportunity.
The game was a much better effort for the USA than last week and is more indicative of their ability to compete with the best teams on the series.
Team USA needs to now regroup for an even more important matchup against Fiji. One that is going to be just as difficult for the USA. A win is needed in order to give the USA a chance of going onto the Cup Quarterfinals.
In other action at the George 7’s, Wales upended Australia 33-15 in a bit of a surprise. Wales is off to a great start this season, but that lopsided of a scoreline against one of the better teams on the series may be an indicator of the heights Wales may reach this season.
Dubai 7’s Champs England were pushed hard by Russia before taking home a 19-5 victory. Russia hasn’t been able to pull off an upset yet this season, but has shown very well.
The USA’s other pool opponents, Fiji and Namibia squared off already with Fiji dominating in a 47-7 win.
Hosts, South Africa rolled to a 38-0 win over Portugal. After a good run in Dubai last week, Portugal came to George with plenty of confidence. Maybe a little too much?
New Zealand unloaded on Kenya 47-0 and continued Kenya’s slow start to the season. Tomasi Cama scored 17 points for New Zealand in the route. Kenya is sorely missing star player Collins Injera.
The USA takes on Fiji at 8:49am EST. Stay tuned for results.