USA Men Start Quest for Gold: Everything’s Into It –

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Patrick Blair and Mike Friday from a couple of years ago. Photo David Barpal.

The USA men started their Quest For Gold tournament with a 40-7 defeat of Korea where they weren’t perfect, but got the job done.

Head Coach Mike Friday ran out a relatively inexperienced group, along with some players coming back from injury. They scored early, but then a turnover gifted Korea a try. The experienced Patrick Blair then took matters into his own hands to use Perry Baker as a decoy and gallop in from long range. After that, tries from Perry Baker on a nifty chip-and-chase, Gavan D’Amore-Morrison, and Brett Thompson paced the USA to a big win.

For Blair, though, there was more to assess than the win.

“We didn’t want to give up that try,” Blair said. “The goal is always to keep a zero on the opponents’ scoreboard. But we all felt pretty good because a lot of us haven’t played at this level for a long time—myself included. I tore my ACL right before COVID popped off and I haven’t played since then. For Folau [Niua] it was basically his first tournament back.”

So to get that try that set things right again felt good. 

“When Perry’s on the outside everyone starts drifting that way, so I can give him a little credit,” Blair joked. “It did feel good to unleash the wagon!”

Baker finally did get to score on a nice chip-and-chase.

“He’s been practicing that,” said Blair.

Of course everyone is playing for a spot on the Olympic team. Everyone is thinking about what they can do to improve their chances.

“There’s a lot of pressure for some players knowing this is their only opportunity to impress Mike [Friday],” said Blair. “For me there’s a little bit of pressure because I know this will be my last go at wearing the jersey. After this it’s the real life … back to the Army. So everything’s into it—I’m going until the wheels fall off.”

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