Japan falls to Cup-bound Eagles at HSBC Sydney Sevens

SYDNEY, Australia - The Men's Eagles Sevens are into their sixth consecutive HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Cup Quarterfinal following a 33-17 defeat of Japan at HSBC Sydney Sevens Saturday.

Mike Friday's squad began the fourth leg of the 2015-16 season with a six-try, shutout win and kept the roll going against non-core side Japan, with Perry Baker extending his try-scoring exploits with a hat trick at Allianz Stadium. The Eagles still have a final day one match against England - scheduled for a 4:19 a.m. ET kickoff - to finalize seeding in Pool D.

The defeat of Wales saw five try-scorers over the try line, and Baker kicked off the festivities against Japan. The Eagles were able to keep the ball through multiple phases from the opening whistle, advancing from their own 22 past midfield. Ben Pinkelman, who scored his first career try earlier in the day, nearly set Danny Barrett away, and the U.S. recycled possession to the opposite touch line to Baker. The speedster spun out of one tackle before avoiding another with a tumble to the pitch to score his first of three.

Japan was awarded an advantage for a U.S. knock on the ensuing restart, but lost the ball forward in its own possession. Pressuring the ball carrier, Martin Iosefo quickly grabbed the loose ball and accelerated 15 meters to the in-goal area to dot down the ball over the line, accounting for his first try of the season. Madison Hughes' conversion padded the third-minute lead to 12-0.

The Eagles were without possession for the longest period of the day following their second try, as Japan kept the ball moving quickly through tackles into the U.S. half. Satoshi Oshima received the ball within 10 meters of the try line and bounced off of a tackle to reach over the Eagle captain for a try, the first against the U.S. in nearly 20 minutes of action in Sydney.

A penalty against the U.S. on the restart did not prove costly as Japan lost the ball forward, and a methodic move down one touch line between Pinkelman and Zack Test allowed the Eagles to spread the offense, giving Baker room on the other wing to round his defender. Hughes converted his teammate's second try of the match to give his team a 19-5 lead going into the break.

Friday kept Baker on the pitch for the start of the second half rather than bring on Carlin Isles, and it paid off within 30 seconds of the kickoff. Barrett was unable to grasp the ball in the air, but kicked it out of the ruck for Baker to take to the in-goal area, signaling the hat trick. Iosefo narrowly extended the 26-5 lead with a run to the corner after an initial high tackle was cited by the referee, and it took a few more minutes for the Eagles to get back on the board via Isles.

Japan mustered two tries after the Eagles went up, 33-5, to bring the final score to 33-17, with Lomano Lemeki getting around Nate Augspurger and Shohei Toyoshima receiving a bullet pass to reach the corner before the full-time whistle.

England has had the Eagles' number so far this season, winning both meetings in the first three rounds. A win for the Eagles would see them face the Pool A runner-up - either host Australia or HSBC Wellington Sevens champion New Zealand - in the Cup Quarterfinal. Kickoff for the U.S.'s final pool match is scheduled for 4:19 a.m. ET, with World Rugby providing the live stream from Allianz Stadium.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. Japan

1. Carlin Isles

2. Matai Leuta

3. Danny Barrett

4. Ben Pinkelman

5. Zack Test

6. Martin Iosefo

7. Folau Niua

8. Thretton Palamo

9. Nate Augspurger

10. Madison Hughes

11. Perry Baker

12. Will Holder

Japan | v. USA

1. Lomano Lemeki

2. Lote Tuqiri

3. Kameli Soejima

4. Yoshiaki Tsurugasaki

5. Akihito Yamada

6. Dai Ozawa

7. Katsuyuki Sakai

8. Satoshi Oshima

9. Shohei Toyoshima

10. Kosuke Hashino

11. Chihito Matsui

12. Teruya Goto

Men's Eagles Sevens | 33

Tries: Baker (3), Iosefo, Isles

Conversions: Hughes (3), Augspurger

Japan | 17

Tries: Oshima, Lemeki, Toyoshima

Conversions: Sakai

Men's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Sydney Sevens

v. Wales - W 42-0

v. Japan - W 33-17

v. England - Saturday, Feb. 6 @ 4:19 a.m. ET