Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
After a tough start to the day, the USA has finished off the Wellington 7’s with a 19-12 win over France in the Shield Final. The win marks the second straight year that the USA has taken home the Shield in New Zealand.
France took an early lead in the match when diminutive speedster Terry Bouhraoua found a gap and raced in for a try under the posts. The ensuing conversion gave France an early 7-0 lead.
The USA answered right back to tie the score. Deep in French territory, Enosa caught France with a nice chip and chase. After almost bobbling away the wet and slippery ball, Enosa collected it just in time to dive over the line for a try. His conversion deadlocked the game at 7-7.
Just before half, the USA took an apparent lead when Enosa found another hole in the French secondary and plugged a grubber through France’s defensive line and right into the arms of Matt Hawkins, who finished off the score. A ruling from the touch judge nullified the score as Mark Bokhoven was penalized for holding back a French defender during the play.
The two teams went into the half tied.
Bouhraoua put France ahead just after half with a 80-meter try that came off of a USA turnover. Team USA started the half strong by stringing together a nice series of phases, but lack of patience led to the turnover.
With France leading 12-7 late in the half, USA took the lead for good after the USA put together some of their finest play of the weekend. A series of offloads and ball movement that started with Paul Emerick and went through nearly every player on the field yielded a try under the posts for Roland Suniula. Enosa’s conversion put the USA ahead 14-12 with less than a minute to play.
With one last chance to win, France was penalized on the restart. With time still left, USA kicked to the corner and took a lineout near France’s 22-meter line. A sloppy lineout led to the ball squirting out which was picked up by Emerick, who raced to score and clinch victory for the USA.
“I’m pleased because yesterday we didn’t play well and this morning didn’t start well,” a relieved USA Head Coach, Al Caravelli said in regards to the Shield victory in Wellington.
Team USA departs New Zealand tomorrow to come home and prepare for the Las Vegas 7’s next weekend. Caravelli is certainly hoping that history repeates as the USA used their Shield title in Wellington last year to string together three straight tournaments where they picked up World Series points.
“Wellington was the start of our season last year,” added an optimistic Caravelli.