New Zealand falls to Cup-bound Eagles in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The Men's Eagles Sevens rewrote the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series history books Friday and clinched a spot in the Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens Cup Quarterfinals with a 14-12 defeat of New Zealand.

Perry Baker scored both of the U.S.'s tries in what was the first win against the Kiwis in Series history. The Eagles had previously come close to giving New Zealand a loss at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 and last season's USA Sevens in Las Vegas. With the win, Mike Friday's side finishes second in Pool C and will face South Africa Saturday at 3:06 a.m. ET.

Baker did not quite play all 14 minutes of the match, but was a common name called by the commentators from minute No. 1. The wing got a hand to Folau Niua's kickoff, though the ball bounced into touch for a U.S. lineout. The set piece did its job and the ball fell to Baker in the middle of the pitch, where he slipped through two defenders by the slimmest of margins to race under the posts. Captain Madison Hughes converted for a 7-0 lead.

Watch the Eagles beat New Zealand for the first time

The Eagles played the remaining six minutes of the first frame without the ball, as New Zealand slowly made its way into the attacking half and the referee blew his whistle at each near-turnover. Bender was called for an infraction on the restart, and New Zealand got away with sloppy passing with an additional penalty to Niua.

New Zealand kicked to touch rather than take the sevens-norm quick tap in the fifth minute, setting up a five-meter lineout. The Eagles' defense did not budge as the Kiwis tried to attack along both touch lines and through the middle. An attempted pass bounced off of Baker, who was within a yard of his marked opponent, and the referee saw fit to send the Eagle to the sin bin.

Almost immediately, Gillies Kaka set DJ Forbes free outside the try line for the match-leveling score, converted by Kaka. New Zealand then kicked the restart into touch within a few meters of the line, but the Eagles were able to gather the ball from the set piece and clear to touch to bring an end to the first half.

The extra time taken to set up the lineout at the end of the first seven minutes was enough for Baker's sinning to expire prior to the second-half kickoff, which saw another penalty go New Zealand's way. Kaka kicked for a five-meter lineout in the ninth minute and Forbes assisted a Scott Dickson try in the corner. The tough-angled conversion was missed, giving New Zealand a 12-7 lead.

The ensuing restart was grabbed by the Eagles, and a low pass to Matai Leuta confused the match official into thinking the ball was knocked for a New Zealand scrum. Though they won the scrum, the Kiwis were called for the their first infraction seconds later.

The Eagles were able to string passes together to spread their opponent's defense, and Zack Test made a run through the line to gain midfield. A kick-and-chase play was followed by the pacey Baker, but he just lost the handle on the ball as he reached for the try line.

A penalty against the U.S. in the 13th-minute scrum in a dangerous position allowed Kaka to kick to touch. New Zealand wasted the remaining seconds off of the clock with looping passes, only to be penalized when time expired. The Eagles took advantage and sent the ball to Baker on the wing, where the try-scorer scooted out of a tackle before dotting down in the corner.

With a draw not enough to finish in a Cup Quarterfinal-qualifying position in Pool C, Hughes kicked the touch-line conversion to give the Eagles the 14-12 victory.

Friday's charges will take their chances against South Africa Saturday at 7he Sevens Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for 3:06 a.m. ET. Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens can be viewed live on World Rugby's website.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. New Zealand

1. Carlin Isles

2. Matai Leuta

3. Brett Thompson

4. Garrett Bender

5. Zack Test

6. Kevin Swiryn

7. Folau Niua

8. Maka Unufe

9. Nate Augspurger

10. Madison Hughes (C)

11. Perry Baker

12. Will Holder

New Zealand | v. USA

1. Scott Curry

2. Tim Mikkelson

3. Lewis Ormond

4. DJ Forbes

5. Dylan Collier

6. Augustine Pulu

7. Sam Dickson

8. Gillies Kaka

9. Sherwin Stowers

10. Declan O'Donnell

11. Joe Webber

12. Regan Ware

Men's Eagles Sevens | 14

Tries: Baker (2)

Conversions: Hughes (2)

New Zealand | 12

Tries: Forbes, Dickson

Conversions: Kaka

Men's Eagles Sevens | Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens

v. Portugal - W 45-14

v. France - L 26-21

v. New Zealand - W 14-12

Cup QF v. South Africa - Saturday, Dec. 5 - 3:06 a.m. ET