Eagles put Dubai on notice with heavy defeat of Portugal

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The Men's Eagles Sevens picked up where they left off on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Friday, scoring seven tries to open Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens with a 45-14 win against Portugal.

Mike Friday's squad won the Cup at Marriot London Sevens in May, where they also beat Portugal, and begin the 2015-16 Series ahead of New Zealand in Pool C with a superior point differential. The Eagles play France at 7he Sevens Stadium at 5:36 a.m. ET.

Despite the head coach's concerns for the team being "undercooked" to start the season, the U.S. began the match boiling hot with three tries in five minutes. Perry Baker got things started in the first minute with a run up the middle from his own half. Baker capitalized on Maka Unufe's work to win the ensuing restart, and precision passing to the wing placed the ball in Zack Test's hands for try No. 2.

Watch the Eagles kick off the season on a high note

The 12-0 lead was extended in the fourth minute after a lengthy offensive between Portugal's 10 and 22. Garrett Bender put his name on the scoresheet by slipping around a defender as he approached the 22 and dotting down between the uprights. Captain Madison Hughes converted the try for a 19-0 advantage.

Bender could not quite get his arms around Carl Murray in the sixth minute, and the Portugal flyer did not hesitate to go for the try line. The Eagles' reply to Portugal's first try of the match came immediately via Baker's second score. Unufe reached midfield on the wing and attempted a one-handed offload to Baker on the inside, and the ball bounced off of Joao Belo and into the Eagle's running lane for the score and 26-7 halftime lead.

The Eagles lost possession in their own half in the ninth minute and committed an infraction to give Portugal space with which to work out wide. Pedro Silverio finished Portugal's first real attack in the U.S.'s half with the try, cutting the Eagles' lead to 26-14.

Feeding off of the brief, second-half momentum, Portugal kicked a short restart to get ball in hand, but it was knocked for a U.S. scrum. The Eagles promptly found the recently-introduced Carlin Isles in the middle of the pitch, and the 'Fastest Man in Rugby' ran around and past two defenders for his first try of the season.

Nate Augspurger was the benefactor of Unufe's work on the ensuing restart, scoring his first career Series try by gathering a bouncing ball and beating three defenders to the try line for a 40-14 lead. Kevin Swiryn's work at the breakdown in the second half helped shore the Eagles' defense, and Brett Thompson followed a Swiryn-forced turnover with the match's final try to bring the final score to 45-14.

New Zealand was kept to a seven-point victory against France in the other Pool C encounter Friday, giving the Eagles a sizable lead atop the group. France is up next for the U.S. at 5:36 a.m. ET. Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens can be viewed in the USA on World Rugby's website.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. Portugal

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

Portugal | v. USA

1. Vasco Ribeiro

3. Francisco Vieira

4. Carl Gordon Murray

5. Pedro Silverio

6. Michael Jardim Andrade

7. David Wallis Carvalho

9. Pedro Miguel Da Cunha Leal (C)

10. Tiago Fernandes

12. Joao Belo

Men's Eagles Sevens | 45

Tries: Baker (2), Test, Bender, Isles, Augspurger, Thompson

Conversions: Hughes (4), Augspurger

Portugal | 14

Tries: Murray, Silverio

Conversions: Leal (2)

Men's Eagles Sevens | Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens

v. Portugal - W 45-14

v. France - Friday, Dec. 4 - 5:36 a.m. ET

v. New Zealand - Friday, Dec. 4 - 10:58 a.m. ET