France squeaks out win over U.S. in Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - France escaped its Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens Pool C clash with the Men's Eagles Sevens Friday with a 26-21 win thanks to a 14th-minute try.

Madison Hughes converted all three of the Eagles' tries scored in the match, which followed a tournament-opening defeat of Portugal earlier in the day at 7he Sevens Stadium. The U.S. will need help from the France-Portugal matchup and a positive result against New Zealand at 10:58 a.m. ET to reach Saturday's Cup round.

France began the match by collecting the kickoff, but Folau Niua's stand-up tackle at midfield drew the referee's whistle for the Eagles to gain possession. Captain Hughes took his time with the tap to get a set play going before Garrett Bender was called for crossing. Carlin Isles made two vital tackles in quick succession after a France lineout, but a Stephen Parez grubber kick bounced off of the post for Steeve Barry to force in-goal.

Watch the full match replay

Terry Bouhraoua followed his teammate into the try zone in the fifth minute after Isles' missed tackle and ensuing follow-up tackle paved the way for a 14-0 score line. Matai Leuta and Hughes quickly found their way into France's half following the restart and Zack Test strode towards the corner before the attack settled at the 22. Maka Unufe got around the defense in the seventh minute to pull one back for the U.S. and send the teams into the break at 14-7.

An early, second-half lineout put France in the Eagles' half, and several short-range passes towards the wing set up Damien Cler for a try, extending his team's lead to 21-7 with six minutes to play.

Perry Baker replaced Isles for the second frame and showed off his foot speed to wrong-foot three defenders in the 10th minute to gain midfield. Test followed suit to reach the 22, and popped out an offload from the tackle area onto the chest of the onrushing Brett Thompson for the try.

Test leveled the match from the ensuing restart, pushing two defenders off of their feet to dot down on the try line. Hughes put the tough conversion through the uprights for a 21-21 score line.

After keeping New Zealand to a seven-point victory in its first match at 7he Sevens Stadium, France pulled out the win against the Eagles with a patient attack in the final minutes of the match. Virimi Vakatawa had the final say by breaking Baker's tackle, fending Unufe, and dotting down in-goal with 60 seconds remaining. The Eagles could not handle the ensuing restart, and France kicked the ball into touch to draw the final whistle.

Mike Friday's squad finishes pool play against New Zealand Friday at 10:58 a.m. ET. Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens can be streamed live in the United States on World Rugby's website.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. France

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

France | v. USA

1. Jonathan Laugel

2. Alexandrew Gracbling

3. Damien Cler

4. Terry Bouhraoua

5. Stephen Parez

6. Steeve Barry

7. Virimi Vakatawa

8. Pierre Gilles Lakafia

9. Jeremy Aicardi

10. Julien Candelon

11. Sacha Valleau

12. Vincent Inigo

Men's Eagles Sevens | 21

Tries: Unufe, Thompson, Test

Conversions: Hughes (3)

France | 26

Tries: Barry, Bouhraoua, Cler, Vakatawa

Conversions: Bouhraoua (3)

Men's Eagles Sevens | Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens

v. Portugal - W 45-14

v. France - L 26-21

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