HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series

Eagles Sevens in Challenge Trophy Hunt after Day 1 in Wellington

January 28, 2017

Eagles Sevens in Challenge Trophy Hunt after Day 1 in Wellington

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Doug Coil

The USA Men’s Eagles Sevens had a draw against France, a win against Samoa and then a loss against New Zealand in Pool play at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Wellington Sevens at Westpac Stadium. Although they had the same record as France, they came in third in the Pool due to France’s better point differential. When play resumes today on day two, the Eagles Sevens will face Japan in the Challenge Trophy Quarterfinal at 5:22pm ET on Saturday. The third leg of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series can be viewed live on World Rugby’s website.

Prior to the tournament the Eagles needed to replace two players. First Kevon Williams was injured prior to leaving for Wellington and Connor Wallace-Sims replaced him on the squad. Then after the team was in New Zealand, Brett Thompson suffered an injury and Pago Haini, who was playing in New Zealand replaced him.

USA v France

The USA got off to a fast start as Perry Baker took the ball at mid field, but Julien Candelon’s tackle within five meters of the try line coughed up the ball. France could not take advantage of the scrum and the Eagles went on the attack with Martin Iosefo navigating between two defenders to give the USA a lead from a try under the posts. Madison Hughes added the conversion for the 7-0 lead.

Restarts were an issue for the rest of the first half as the Eagles could not hang on to the ball. France took advantage and strung together three quick converted tries prior to halftime for a 21-7 lead.

First Martin Iosefo mishandled the ball which allowed Stephen Parez to find a gap for a try. Then Danny Barrett was next and Julien Candelon was in for a try. Finally, another Barrett miscue had Parez kicking a loose ball in-goal and gaining possession for a try. Terry Bouhraoua converted all three tries.

Head Coach Mike Friday had the squad pumped up to begin the second half as they came back to tie the match 21 all.

France continued their momentum from the first half, taking advantage of USA errors and advanced the ball deep into USA territory before losing possession. That was all that was needed for the Eagles as they used quick hands to get the ball to Perry Baker as he cut between multiple defenders and raced in for a highlight video try. Hughes converted and cut the lead to 21-14.

Hughes then found a gap in the defense and on a second effort grounded the ball in-goal. The ball was reviewed and a try was not awarded. France then kicked possession away and Iosefo found Baker and he raced over the try line and then smartly passed the ball to Andrew Durutalo and gave Hughes an easier chance to tie the score with his third conversion.

While both teams had late attacks, neither could add to the score and the match ended in a draw.

Meanwhile, in play involving the other two Pool C teams, New Zealand won 33-7 over Samoa.

Men’s Eagles Sevens – HSBC Wellington Sevens
1. Carlin Isles 2. Matai Leuta 3. Danny Barrett 5. Don Pati 6. Andrew Durutalo 7. Folau Niua 8. Connor Wallace-Sims 9. Stephen Tomasin 10. Madison Hughes (C) 11. Perry Baker 12. Martin Iosefo 13. Pago Haini

Starters: Durutalo, Tomasin, Barrett, Hughes (C), Iosefo, Niua, Baker

France v. USA
1. Jonathan Laugel 2. Manoel Dall Igna 3. Jean Baptiste Mazoue 4. Terry Bouhraoua 5. Stephen Parez 6. Jean Pascal Barraque 7. Bastien Berenguel 8. Pierre Gilles Lakafia 9. Pierre Louis Barassi 10. Julien Candelon 11. Sacha Valleau 12. Jeremy Aicardi 13. Vincent Inigo

Men’s Eagles Sevens -21
Tries: Iosefo, Baker, Durutalo
Conversions: Hughes (3)

France – 21
Tries: Parez (2), Candelon
Conversions: Bouhraoua (3)

USA v Samoa

With the draw with France, the match against Samoa was critical for the Eagles chances to advance to the Cup Quarterfinals. They rebounded nicely and emerged with a 24-12 win and needed to perform well against the hosts, New Zealand in the final Pool play match.

Once again the Eagles struck first with Andrew Durutalo poaching the ball at the breakdown after the opening restart by Folau Niua. An Iosefo break and a Barrett to Baker pass and Baker streaming by a defender for a try and a Hughes conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Baker fell awkwardly on the restart, but fortunately was fine. After a scrum infraction by Samoa, the Eagles took advantage of the penalty as Danny Barrett fought his way through two tacklers and offloaded to Stephen Tomasin who quickly passed to Folau Niua for the try and a 12-0 lead.

Samoa narrowed the score to 12-7 as Alamanda Motuga touched down for a try after an Eagles penalty.The Eagles then came right back after a Samoa error on the restart. A Madison Hughes run and a pass to Baker had him beat a defender. He offloaded to Niua who moved the ball to Tomasin for a try and a 19-7 lead at halftime.

In the second half, both Carlin Isles and Matai Leuta provided an energy boast for the team. A Leuta run down the touch line with a pass to Tomasin went deep into Samoan territory. An offload to Durutalo and and a retrieval by Leuta had him finish up the attack with a try and a 24-7 lead.

Samoa did not let down and Joe Perez found through a Carlin Isles tackle to score in the corner. With a knock on after the restart the match ended 24-12 in the EAgles favor.

Men’s Eagles Sevens – HSBC Wellington Sevens
1. Carlin Isles 2. Matai Leuta 3. Danny Barrett 5. Don Pati 6. Andrew Durutalo 7. Folau Niua 8. Connor Wallace-Sims 9. Stephen Tomasin 10. Madison Hughes (C) 11. Perry Baker 12. Martin Iosefo 13. Pago Haini

Starters: Durutalo, Tomasin, Barrett, Hughes (C), Iosefo, Niua, Baker

Replacements: Carlin Isles, Matai Leuta, Pago Haini

Samoa v. USA
1. Tofatu Solia 2. Alamanda Motuga 3. Francis Ieremia 4. Lafaele Vaa 5. Malu Falaniko 6. Neria Fomai 7. Laaloi Leilua 8. Tomasi Alosio 9. Tila Mealoi 10. Samoa Toloa 11. Joe Perez 12. Siaosi Asofolau 13. Silao Nonu

Men’s Eagles Sevens – 24
Tries: Baker, Niua, Iosefo, Leuta
Conversions: Hughes (2)

Samoa – 12
Tries: Motuga, Perez
Conversions: Mealoi

USA v New Zealand

The Eagles entered the match against New Zealand knowing that France had beaten Samoa 28-5. With that win, the Eagles would need to win or a draw against New Zealand to advance to the Cup Quarterfinals. A late try by New Zealand ended the Eagles hopes, as New Zealand won 24-12 and knocked the USA to the Challenge Trophy bracket for a match against Japan in the Quarterfinals.

The Eagles kicked deep to try to pin New Zealand deep in their territory. The Eagles  continued to pressure the attack and Perry Baker tapped a pass into touch around midfield. From the set play, Danny Barrett intercepted a pass. Madison Hughes popped the ball to Folau Niua. A Martin Iosefo to Stephen Tomasin pass outside the try line lead to the opening score and 7-0 lead.

New Zealand responded quickly and reached the U.S. 10 from the restart and debutant Vilimoni Koroi executed a dummy past Tomasin for the try. The Eagles then grabbed the ensuing restart and Iosefo weaved through two defenders before being stopped just short of the in-goal area, but his offload to Baker was lost forward.

Tim Mikkelson was sent to the sin bin moments after chasing a clearance kick and fell on Niua as he was on the ground. The U.S. capitalized, and had Barrett with a three-on-one near the corner. He lowered his shoulder and fought his way over the line to give the Eagles a 12-7 lead at halftime.

Early in the second half, Baker chased Koroi down at midfield and tried to keep the Kiwi’s  high pass from going into touch. Baker was shaken up on the play and replaced by Carlin Isles.

Isaac Te Tamaki then evened the score in the 10th minute before the conversion gave New Zealand a 14-12 lead, and a Mikkelson quick tap from an Eagles penalty on the restart resulted in a try.

With less than two minutes in the match, the Eagles were down by seven points and needed to even the score for a chance to advance to the Cup Quarterfinals. a errant pass by Leuta had the Eagles defending a scrum. Niua regained possession from the breakdown and swung the ball wide before it came back to Carlin Isles, who did not have the space at the touchline. In an ensuing tackle of Leuta, the ball was ripped out of his hands and Te Tamaki ended the Eagles hopes with a try for a 24-12 win.

With the loss combined with France’s win, France gained second in the Pool due to its point differential. The USA will now face Japan at 5:22 pm ET in the Challenge Trophy Quarterfinals.

Men’s Eagles Sevens – HSBC Wellington Sevens
1. Carlin Isles 2. Matai Leuta 3. Danny Barrett 5. Don Pati 6. Andrew Durutalo 7. Folau Niua 8. Connor Wallace-Sims 9. Stephen Tomasin 10. Madison Hughes (C) 11. Perry Baker 12. Martin Iosefo 13. Pago Haini

Starters: Durutalo, Tomasin, Barrett, Hughes (C), Iosefo, Niua, Baker

Replacements: Matei Leuta, Carlin Isles

New Zealand v. USA
1. Scott Curry 2. Tim Mikkelson 3. Tone Ng Shiu 4. DJ Forbes 5. Dylan Collier 6. Vilimoni Koroi 7. Iopu Iopu-Aso 8. Rocky Khan 9. Sherwin Stowers 10. Regan Ware 11. Isaac Te Tamaki 12. Sione Molia 13. Trael Joass

Men’s Eagles Sevens -12
Tries: Tomasin, Barrett
Conversions: Hughes

New Zealand – 24
Tries: Koroi, Mikkelson, Te Tamaki (2)
Conversions: Koroi

Men’s Eagles Sevens – HSBC Wellington Sevens (USA Rugby Recaps below)

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