Defeat to New Zealand sets Eagles on course for Fiji clash in Canada

VANCOUVER - Perry Baker scored his fifth try of HSBC Canada Sevens in a losing effort Saturday as the Men's Eagles Sevens fell to New Zealand, 17-5, at BC Place Stadium.

Mike Friday's squad had secured a spot in the Cup Quarterfinals - its eighth consecutive on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series - with defeats of France and England in Pool D play. The Eagles will face Fiji, winner of Pool A, in the first stage of the knockout rounds Sunday at 11:08 a.m. PT.

The Eagles immediately gave up possession from Folau Niua's match-opening kickoff but continued the day's effective defensive play to force New Zealand into committing a penalty. Danny Barrett took on contact in the second minute and had the ball stripped, from which Sione Molia scored from deep inside his own half.

The ball was mostly with the Eagles for the majority of the half as the U.S. racked up more than 40 passes in the first frame. A penalty ended the attack in the sixth minute, and Molia doubled the lead to 10-0 from quick ball movement in New Zealand's lineout.

The Eagles kept play going well beyond the first-half hooter had sounded, searching for the score to cut the deficit going into halftime. Despite go-forward runs, the U.S. gave up field position and was punished as Tim Mikkelson grabbed the ball from a tackled Barrett and offloaded to Kurt Baker for the try.

Both teams had gone through an exhaustive day one in Vancouver, and showed signs of fatigue throughout the second half as New Zealand held onto its 17-0 lead. Again the Eagles spent several minutes with ball in hand, but were not able to find the game-breaking play until the final minute of play when Seth Halliman sent a skip pass to Baker. The wing ran from his own 22 to the try line to keep the Eagles from a shutout at 17-5.

Friday's proclaimed "pool of death" finishes with New Zealand at the top of the table with three wins, while the U.S. beats out England and France, respectively, to reach the Cup Quarterfinals. The Eagles met Fiji in the HSBC USA Sevens Cup Semifinals last weekend, and have an 0-3 record against the Series leader this season. Sunday's match will kick off at 11:08 a.m. PT and will be streamed live on World Rugby's website.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. New Zealand

1. Thretton Palamo

2. Ben Pinkelman

3. Danny Barrett

4. Garrett Bender

5. Ben Leatigaga

6. Pat Blair

7. Folau Niua

8. Seth Halliman

9. Nate Augspurger

10. Madison Hughes(C)

11. Perry Baker

12. Martin Iosefo

New Zealand | v. USA

1. Lewis Ormond

2. Tim Mikkelson

3. Regan Ware

4. DJ Forbes

5. Dylan Collier

6. Liam Messam

7. Sam Dickson

8. Gillies Kaka

9. Sherwin Stowers

10. Sione Molia

11. Kurt Baker

12. Beaudein Waaka

Men's Eagles Sevens | 5

Tries: Baker

Conversions: N/A

New Zealand | 17

Tries: Molia, Baker

Conversions: Baker

Men's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Canada Sevens

v. France - W 42-14

v. England - W 17-12

v. New Zealand - L 17-5

Cup QF v. Fiji - Sunday, March 13 @ 11:08 a.m. PT