U.S. ends Dubai trip with second defeat of New Zealand, third place title

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The Men's Eagles Sevens gained 17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series points, finished third at Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens, and beat New Zealand, 31-12, for the second time on the weekend Saturday.

Mike Friday's squad finished Pool C play Friday with a come-from-behind, last-second defeat of New Zealand - their first ever in Series history - to reach the Cup round, and proved it was not a fluke with a five-try performance in the Third-Place Match. The Eagles will be back in action next weekend, Dec. 12-13, at HSBC Cape Town Sevens.

New Zealand struck first at 7he Sevens Stadium, though the Eagles won the match's first possession. Sherwin Stowers was taken to the pitch by Carlin Isles in the second minute only to get the ball back a few phases later. Despite Will Holder's work to turn over the ball in the breakdown outside the try line, Stowers was able to take advantage of a penalty on the play to score.

Watch the Eagles beat New Zealand for third in Dubai

Nate Augspurger, Holder, and Kevin Swiryn all earned starts in the Third-Place Match and accounted for a combined 21 points. Swiryn proved a handful for New Zealand in the third minute when he began a brilliant individual run in his own half. A dummy between the 22 and 10 was followed by three broken tackles before Swiryn offloaded to his support runner, Folau Niua, for the reply try. Niua could not convert, but the Eagles were on the board at 7-5.

If they had not done it during pool play, the Eagles showed New Zealand they traveled to Dubai to contend with the best and stole the restart following Niua's try. It did not take long to threaten the try line, and Swiryn again evaded multiple tackles after a Holder offload to score his first try of the weekend. Niua converted to take a 12-7 lead.

With the half nearing an end, Zack Test went into a breakdown and forced New Zealand into a penalty. The Eagles looked to extend the lead before the break and did just that when Niua used a dummy to go forward. In contact, he offloaded to the onrushing Holder to dot down under the uprights.

Garrett Bender was unable to extend the 19-7 lead in the ninth minute, being held up in-goal by his opposite number. New Zealand carried some weight into the Eagles' half in the 11th minute, but killed its own momentum when a chip kick towards the corner resulted in a yellow card to Augustine Pulu. Test won the battle in the air to capture the bouncing ball, and Pulu did not do enough to avoid dangerous play.

A set play from the penalty's lineout created more space on the wing for Perry Baker between his 22 and 10, but he cut to the inside instead to break the line and extend the Eagles' lead to 26-7.

Pulu reentered the match prior to the restart to restore the seven-on-seven play, but Baker's height gave the U.S. the ball and Holder put some finality on the contest with a try. New Zealand's Lewis Ormond scored a consolation try with time expired after a few penalties called against the Eagles to bring the final score to 31-12.

The Eagles were drawn into a pool with Australia, Portugal, and Wales for HSBC Cape Town Sevens, which kicks off next weekend. Though it is still early in the season - Dubai is the first of 10 legs for the 2015-16 Series - the Eagles hold a coveted third-place spot in the standings.

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 | 31

Tries: Niua, Swiryn, Holder (2), Baker

Conversions: Augspurger (3)

New Zealand | 12

Tries: Stowers, Ormond

Conversions: Webber

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 - W 21-19

Cup SF v. England - L 24-19

Third-Place v. New Zealand - W 31-12