The USA Men’s Eagles Sevens team entered the HSBC New Zealand Sevens in Hamilton in first place in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. This is the third stop on the circuit, taking place on January 25-27 (based on Eastern Time) and being broadcast LIVE on ESPN+. The USA faced Tonga winning 29-7, Samoa 34-14, and England 19-5 in Pool B. The USA will play Scotland in the Cup Quarterfinals.
The Eagles Sevens claimed their second-consecutive silver medal for the first time ever after the Dubai and Cape Town Sevens and are ranked No. 1 in the World Series standings, one point ahead of No. 2 New Zealand and eight points ahead of No. 4 England.
The USA vs Tonga
The USA Men’s Eagles Sevens opened the Hamilton Sevens with a 29-7 win over Tonga. The Eagles suffered a significant loss as Perry Baker exited the pitch after a head knock by David Afamasaga.
Folua Niua played in his 62nd HSBC Sevens Series tournament, which equals Zack Test’s USA record.
The opening restart was claimed by Martin Iosefo with Folau Niua selling a dummy for a try. Tomasin’s conversion bounced off the posts. Tonga answered back with a break by John Tapueluelu, who was tackled a meter from the line by Carlin Isles but extended his arm over the line grounding for a try. Otu Mausia added the conversion for a 7-5 Tonga lead.
After that, Martin Iosefo offloaded to Carlin Isles, who was boxed in by three defenders and passed back to Iosefo. Isles then took the ball from a dead stop and accelerated quickly for a try. Tomasin’s conversion was good and the Eagles reclaimed the lead 12-7.
The Eagles 7s added a third try from a Niua cross kick to Tomasin for a try, taking a 17-7 lead into the break.
The USA started out strong in the second half with Tomasin adding a try and a conversion for a 24-7 lead. Maceo Brown scored another from close range, with Tomasin missing a kick under the posts to lead 29-7.
The Eagles wish the last minute of the match never occurred. Perry Baker was met head to head by Otu Mausia and went down immediately. Mausia was sent to the bin for his contact with the head, while unintentional. Baker was assisted from the pitch and his tournament ended suddenly with a road to recovery ahead.
Later, USA Rugby tweeted that Baker had passed the Head Injury Assessment but will now undergo x-rays. USA Rugby then confirmed that Perry Baker has suffered a fractured jaw and will return home to undergo surgery. Pat Blair has been activated as the 13th man. Let’s hope for his recovery and return to good heath.
In the other Pool B match, Samoa beat England 12-10.
The USA vs. Samoa
With Perry Baker’s injury in the match against Tonga, Pat Blair was activated as his replacement.
Samoa took the opening kick with Alamanda Motuga breaking down the touch and offloading to Joe Perez who advanced to within a meter from the line. Samoa swung the ball wide right with David Afamasaga scoring near the right corner. Alatasi Tupou slotted the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
The USA claimed the restart and after phases, Martin Iosefo advanced the ball to within 5-meters of the line and scored after a not releasing penalty. Madison Hughes slotted the conversion to knot the match at 7 all.
Stephen Tomasin then had a long break down the touch and offloaded to Folau Niua. From the breakdown, Iosefo passed to Hughes for a try and a conversion. Carlin Isles then added two tries with Hughes converting the first for a 26-7 lead at the break.
The Eagles Sevens continued their momentum in the second half with a quick strike by Carlin isles for a hat trick 31-7 lead. Samoa then answered back with Joe Perez offloading to John Valii for a try. Tupou slotted the conversion to cut the lead to 31-14.
With time winding down, Samoa was penalized for side entry at the breakdown. Madison Hughes elected to kick a penalty for a 34-14 lead and took valuable seconds off the clock. He would steal the ball at the breakdown and kicked it into touch for the win.
The USA made a statement win against Samoa. The team is 2-0 and a victory over England or a draw in their final pool match would propel them into the Cup quarterfinals as Pool winners.
England beat Tonga 36-7 prior to the USA match against Samoa, so both Samoa and England are tied for second with 1-1 records. Point differential could come into play after round 3., should the USA lose to England and Samoa beat Tonga. Each team would then have 2-1 records in pool play.
After two rounds, the USA has 6 points and are +42, Samoa is 1-1 with 4 points and -18, while England sits in third place with a 1-1 record with 4 points and are +27.
The USA vs. England
The match against England is a match that the team needed to win. The Eagles Sevens team were very focused after the injury to Perry Baker. A win or a draw against England would propel the team into the Cup Quarterfinals against Scotland.
Prior to the match between USA and England, Samoa beat Tonga 28-12 to go 2-1 in the Pool.
The opening kick from England did not go 10 meters, so at midfield, Folau Niua tapped and offloaded to Madison Hughes, who raced 50 meters for the try. His kick bounced off the posts, but the 5-0 lead held up at the break.
In the second half, the ball was turned over by martin Iosefo and Stephen Tomasin raced in for a try. After Hughes converted the lead increased to 12-0.
Madison Hughes then saved a try, but the ball went wide to Dan Norton for a try cutting the lead to 12-5. Carlin Isles answered back on the wide channel scoring a try, pushing the lead to 17-5. Hughes then slotted the conversion for a 19-5 lead.
The USA won the Poll going 3-0 in Pool B and will face Scotland in the Cup Quarterfinals, while Samoa will play South Africa. England and Tonga will play for the Plate.
With the win over England, they distance themselves over the 4th ranked England. A win over Scotland would give the team three consecutive final 4 appearances in the first 3 stops of the Series.
USA, Tonga, Samoa & England Squads (USA Preview Article)
USA: 1 Carlin Isles 2 Ben Pinkelman 3 Danny Barrett 4 Anthony Welmers 5 Brett Thompson 6 Kevon Williams 7 Folau Niua 8 Maceo Brown 9 Stephen Tomasin 10 Madison Hughes 11 Perry Baker 12 Martin Iosefo 13 Pat Blair (Injury Reserve)
Tonga: 1 Tana Fotofili (C) 2 Edward Sunia 3 Tali Finau 4 Lotu Inisi 5 Fetuli Paea 6 Sione Tupou 7 Taniela Samita 8 Fine Inisi 9 Maui Hausia 10 Atieli Pakalani 11 John Tapueluelu 12 Otu Mausia 13 Pololaka Maake (Injury Reserve)
Samoa: 1 Kirismasi Savaiinaea 2 Alamanda Motuga 3 Siasi Asofolau 4 Johnny Samuelu 5 Danny Tusitala 6 Murphy Paulo 7 Alatasi Tupou 8 Tomasi Alosio 9 John Valii 10 Joe Perez 11 Elisapeta Alofipo 12 David Afamasaga (C) 13 Ikifusi Matamu (Injury Reserve)
England: 1 Richard de Carpentier 2 Charlton Kerr 3 Phil Burgess 4 Dan Norton 5 Ryan Olowofela 6 Tom Mitchell (C) 7 Dan Bibby 8 Tom Bowen 9 Ollie Lindsay-Hague 10 Alex Davis 11 Ethan Waddleton 12 Will Muir 13 James Rodwell (Injury Reserve)
Men’s Eagles Sevens Staff
Head Coach | Mike Friday
Assistant Coach | JD Stephenson
Strength & Conditioning Coach | Jon Hood
Athletic Trainer | Brian Green
Team Manager | Scott Novack
HSBC New Zealand Sevens Schedule
Pool B (USA Preview Article)
vs Tonga W 29-7
vs Samoa W 34-14
vs England Sat, Jan 26 – 1:06 AM ET
Knockout rounds for Pool B begin Sat, Jan 26 at 4:22 AM ET.