USA Teams unbeaten on day one in Spain

It was all about the wins for the US teams in Málaga, Spain, on Friday in the first leg of two Sevens World Series events in the Iberian Peninsula.

Both the Eagle Women and Eagle Men finished undefeated the first day in a tournament where one team barged in at the last minute and even then saw another country hold back both of their teams due to exposure to COVID.

And then we also saw another team split into three, although all of that was just a step back to normal.

USA men

The Eagles started in control, seeing Steve Tomasin score in the opening minute against Spain, then Perry Baker and Carlin Isles set the Lions on fire for three in the first half.

But after that it went slow. The USA struggled to get the ball back and had to rely on a pretty strong defense to keep the hosts at the bat. US 19 Spain 14.

In their second clash, the US team faced Jamaica, brought it in on short notice and was expected to run away with it. Both games can be difficult in their own right, especially if the attempts don’t flow. Jamaica did very well to keep possession of the ball and had a lineout deep into the US 22 after a couple of penalties.

It all looked like trouble, but Gavan D’Amore stole the Jamaican lineout pitch, and from then on the game turned. Slowly, patiently and cautiously, the Eagles worked their way out of trouble before a short break from Isles enabled them to deliver a pass to captain Kevon Williams, who broke through to score under the posts. The Eagles then won the restart and Williams was in for his second. From there they rolled and Williams got three.

Yes, it was a low-ranking team in Jamaica, but it was also a dominant performance, with the American defense arguably the best feature.

Next up is Argentina, which is also 2-0 and a bit of a bête noir for the US team.

Williams praised his team for being hungry and working hard to work together, and it seemed like they were operating as a team.

American women

The country that was unable to play was Fiji, meaning the US, Poland and Canada all took a win over the absent Fijians. But the Eagles still had work to do.

It was a relatively comfortable win over Poland, with Cheta Emba scoring two and Kris Thomas, Sarah Levy and Nicole Heavirland also landing in a 31-7 win.

But the most impressive result was the earlier 22-7 win over Canada. The Americans controlled this game pretty much from the start. Kristi Kirshe made a huge breakthrough that eventually led to an attempt by Ilona Maher. Then a great tackle and poacher from Heavirland mounted another attack.

The VS team put in some really good support efforts, hitting the rucks and being available for offloads. But also interesting was that when they got a penalty inside the Canadian 22, they opted for a scrum. That showed confidence in their ability to win a good ball there, but also opened the space wide. It worked, with Emba being set up by Heavirland.

Jaz Gray’s astonishing 95-meter run in the second half sealed it.

This was the first time we saw Emily Bydwell’s Eagle team and it was one with a fast pace of work and a desire to deploy their teammates.

The pool game ends on Saturday, but the Eagles have already won it via forfeit. So they are waiting to see who they play against in the quarterfinals. They will compete against the best team in third place, which could be Spain, Poland or the winner of England vs Brazil.

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