The USA Men’s Eagles Sevens team started slowly against France as they committed errors allowing France to dominate possession. After being behind 24-5, the team staged a huge comeback scoring three tries in the final two minutes of the match to tie the score 24-24.
France’s Paul Bonnefond kicked to open the match and the ball bounced off Maka Unufe and France went on the attack getting to within 5 meters of the line before Matai Leuta poached the ball. Good defense by France contained Perry Baker in-goal resulting in a 5-meter scrum to France. Pierre Gilles Lakafia then powered his way over the line for a try and a 5-0 lead.
The restart was gathered by Folau Niua, but Danny Barrett lost the ball forward. France took advantage and captain Manoel Dall Igna evaded two tacklers for a try. After the conversion by Barraque, the lead increased to 12-0.
Perry Baker claimed the restart, reaching high to snag the ball, but a knock on advantage gave France the ball and a player was driven into touch deep into USA territory for a lineout. Ben Pinkelman snatched the ball and the ball went wide to Baker and back inside to Martin Iosefo, who offloaded to Folau Niua on the tackle. Niua did the rest going almost the length of the pitch and using his feet to freeze a defender for a try. At the break, the Eagles Sevens team was within a try of the lead, 5-12.
France extended their lead on the opening restart as Tavite Veredamu split defenders for a try and Barraque converted for a 19-5 lead.
The ensuing restart went off Baker for a France scrum. The wide ball was defended well by the USA as Baker drove his attacker into touch. The Eagles used a quick lineout to attack, but Iosefo was stripped of the ball into contact. France capitalized as Paul Bonnefond went over the line and then centered the try, but the conversion was missed and France led 24-5.
With the match seemingly over, the USA mounted an extraordinary comeback with two minutes left. A Stephen Tomasin offload to Perry Baker freed the speedster for a try under the posts. Tomasin then converted to narrow the lead to 24-12.
The Eagles Sevens team showed restart prowess and Carlin Isles weaved his way through three defenders for a try under the posts, making an easy conversion for Tomasin. The Eagles needed the restart and the team showed why they are the best of the World Sevens circuit. With no time on the clock, Carlin Isles added a second try in the corner to tie the match 24 all. Stephen Tomasin then had an opportunity to win the match with a difficult kick from touch, but the kick was wide left.
The Eagles Sevens team staged a monumental comeback to tie the match. It is hoped that this will be the catalyst that the team needs to beat Wales and Argentina in their remaining Pool matches and challenge for the Cup.
Men’s Eagles Sevens Traveling Roster Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
1. Carlin Isles. 2. Ben Pinkelman (C) 3. Danny Barrett 4. Matai Leuta 5. Brett Thompson 6. Chris Mattina 7. Folau Niua 8. Maka Unufe 9. Stephen Tomasin 10. Kevon Williams 11. Perry Baker 12. Martin Iosefo 13. Malon Al-Jiboori
Men’s Eagles Sevens Staff Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
Head Coach – Mike Friday
Strength & Conditioning Coach – Jon Hood
Physiotherapist – Brian Green
Team Manager – Scott Novack
Men’s Eagles Sevens Schedule | Pool D | Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
LIVE on ESPN3
vs. France D 24-24
vs. Wales Fri, Apr. 6 – 11:38 PM ET
vs. Argentina Sat, Apr. 7 – 3:38 AM ET