USA Sevens: Day One

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Two tries from Men’s Eagles Sevens flyhalf Pono Haitsuka were not enough as France finished day one at USA Sevens by dealing the Eagles a 14-12 loss.

A six-man ruck straight from the French kickoff resulted in Andrew Durutalo kicking to touch to clear danger. France won its own lineout and moved down the field, setting up Julien Candelon for the match’s first try. France threatened on the doorstep through a few phases before Candelon finished the attack by splitting Brett Thompson and Folau Niua. Stephen Parez kicked the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

Danny Barrett almost replicated his try from the earlier match against Argentina, but was tackled before he could reach the try line. The Eagles turned over possession and Renaud Delmas extended France’s lead a minute later. Delmas received the ball on the wing at midfield with the Eagles stretched the other way and dotted down for a 12-0 lead. Parez’ second conversion added the extra two points.

Delmas nearly scored his second after the restart, weaving through multiple tackles and four Eagles around midfield. France committed a penalty, however, to give the Eagles a chance to attack. Durutalo took a quick tap near the France 10 and found Zack Test in space. Test used his speed to gain ground before passing to Barrett, who found Haitsuka for the Ealges’ first try. Niua kicked the conversion from in front after the halftime whistle to draw the Eagles within a converted try at 14-7.

France committed a penalty at the 22 on the second-half restart, setting up the Eagles for a chance to get even closer on the board. They moved closer and closer, and Durutalo got a pass away to Haitsuka while being tackled for the try. Shalom Suniula, who had entered the match at halftime, was not given the easiest of conversion attempts and missed wide.

Down 14-12, the Eagles needed to hold France and score to get in the win column. France committed another penalty during the restart, but the Eagles gave away the ball before turning the possession into points.

In the 10th minute, Nu’u Punimata sent a French player into touch with a massive tackle and another during the next play. A French maul was held up by the Eagles in the final minute to give them a chance to snatch the day’s first victory.

The opportunity was there for Carlin Isles to show off his speed with time ticking away, but the final pass was misplaced and the Eagles could not recover. A penalty with less than 10 seconds remaining sealed the win for France, as Les Blues kicked to touch to draw the final whistle.

After the match, Eagles Head Coach Matt Hawkins was encouraged by his team’s ability to stay in Friday’s games until the final whistle.

“They showed incredible character both games,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for. We’re excited about that. Now we just have to get a bit more clinical in our finishing.”

Hawkins also highlighted Haitsuka’s play against France, saying the young Oregon State Beaver played closer to his level than in the first match against Argentina.

"In the second game he found his legs and showed what he’s worth."

The Eagles will finish play in Pool D Saturday, Jan. 25, against Spain, who was handily beaten by France, 47-5, before losing to Argentina 33-5. The Eagles are not in contention for the Cup competition and will not gain more than eight points at USA Sevens.

Watch the Eagles take on Spain at 5:34 P.M. ET on NBC. Follow @USARugby on Twitter for live match updates.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v France

1. Carlin Isles (@ 8')

2. Nick Edwards

3. Danny Barrett

4. Nu'u Punimata (@ 10')

"They showed incredible character both games."

6. Brett Thompson

7. Folau Niua

8 .Andrew Durutalo

9. Pono Haitsuka

10. Shalom Suniula (@ 8')

11. Stephen Tomasin (@ 10')

12. Ryan Matyas (@ 13')

Men's Eagles Sevens | 12

Tries: Haitsuka (2)

Conversions: Niua

Danny Barrett scored his first IRB HSBC Sevens World Series try against Argentina Friday night under the lights at Sam Boyd Stadium in the Men's Eagles Sevens' opening match at USA Sevens, but the Pumas found a winner after the final horn to snatch a 19-12 victory from the home team.

Argentina almost opened the scoring in just the first minute from deep in defensive territory if it were not for losing the ball forward. The Eagles gained possession and began to drive down the field, only to be halted twice by Argentinian penalties.

In the third minute, Barrett, in his first start on the circuit after receiving a Residency contract at the Olympic Training Center in January, received the ball on the wing near the 22 and blazed a trail into the try zone. The Eagles took an important early lead, 5-0, against the Pumas, who sit in sixth in the Series standings.

Following the restart, Argentina wasted no time in finding an equalizer. A turnover from the Eagles gifted the Pumas some space and Anibal Panceyra Garrido found Diego Palma in open field for the try. Gaston Revol successfully kicked the conversion to give his side a 7-5 lead.

The screaming Eagles fans thought captain Nick Edwards had given the Eagles a halftime lead when he received a pass from Barrett and crossed into the try zone after the horn. Barrett’s pass, however, was deemed to have been traveling forward, leading to the referee signaling for halftime.

The Eagles enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening seven minutes, but the 7-5 score line favored the South Americans.

Argentina collected the loose ball from its own restart after Zack Test’s flick was not controlled by an Eagle. In less than 30 seconds, the Pumas moved the ball from one wing to the other and back again, leading to Garrido scoring a try of his own to extend Argentina’s lead to 12-5.

Shalom Suniula, Stephen Tomasin and Carlin Isles entered the match following the try and gave the Eagles a boost. Isles saved a try on the right wing with a big hit before causing Argentina to commit a penalty in the ruck.

A minute later, Isles collected a loose ball on the left wing near his own 10, broke two tackles and raced 60 yards for his first try of the tournament. Suniula was given the perfect platform to tie the match because of Isles’ try between the sticks, and he nailed it.

The Eagles were awarded the ball after an Argentine penalty with 30 seconds left, but they committed a penalty of their own before the final whistle. The Pumas capitalized on the time remaining with a try, as Suniula couldn’t rap Facundo Panceyra Garrido outside the try zone. Argentina took the first Pool D match 19-12.

Up next for the Eagles is France, who defeated Spain in the other Pool D match 47-0. Watch the Eagles at 12:30 A.M. ET Saturday, Jan. 25, on Universal Sports Network and follow @USARugby on Twitter for live updates.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v Argentina

1. Carlin Isles (@ 10')

2. Nick Edwards

3. Danny Barrett

4. Nu'u Punimata

5. Zack Test

6. Brett Thompson

7. Folau Niua

8 .Andrew Durutalo

9. Pono Haitsuka

10. Shalom Suniula (@ 10')

11. Stephen Tomasin (@ 10')

12. Ryan Matyas

Men's Eagles Sevens | 12

Tries: Barrett, Isles

Conversions: Suniula