Sydney bids farewell to Eagles in Plate Semifinal

SYDNEY, Australia - The Men's Eagles Sevens' Plate Semifinal exit at HSBC Sydney Sevens Sunday drops the USA to seventh in the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series rankings heading into the fifth round in Las Vegas.

Following a one-loss day one in Pool D at Allianz Stadium, Mike Friday's side went up against a resurgent New Zealand team. Unlike the first three meetings in the first two rounds of the Series - all wins for the Eagles - the All Blacks Sevens went into the Cup Quarterfinal on a nine-match unbeaten streak dating back to their last loss to the U.S.

The Eagles had shut down Fiji for most of their Cup Quarterfinal in Wellington a week prior, and did the same Sunday despite a sixth-minute yellow card to captain Madison Hughes. Tim Mikkelson had served a sinning of his own in the third minute, and extra time added to the first half was enough for New Zealand to score tries in the eighth and 10th minutes for a 12-0 lead at halftime.

The power of New Zealand - the eventual Cup winner in Sydney - shone through in the second half through two additional tries before Folau Niua ended the shutout bid, bringing the final score to 24-7.

Dropping to the Plate Semifinal for the second consecutive weekend, the Eagles faced Kenya, which had ended the U.S.'s Cup hopes in Cape Town with a 26-10 victory. Carlin Isles scored two tries in a blistering first half that also saw Ben Pinkelman cross over for his second career try for a 21-0 lead after seven minutes, in which Kenya had not threatened the Eagles' half.

Friday's previous team fought straight back, however, turning the tide with three tries in four minutes in the second half to cut the deficit to 21-17. The Eagles held possession without scoring as the end of the match drew near, and a turnover led to Kenya's fourth and final try for a 24-21 defeat of the U.S.

The Eagles lost two players to injury in the three weeks in Oceania and played just 10 matches out of a possible 12 in New Zealand and Australia. Third in the standings heading into the back-to-back weekends, the U.S. now sits five points from fourth.

The team will enjoy a recovery period before returning to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., where they will prepare for their home leg in Nevada, to be held at Sam Boyd Stadium March 4-6. The Eagles have been drawn in Pool D, where they will face North American rival Canada, joint-Series leader South Africa, and Wales in the first two days of competition.

Men's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Sydney Sevens

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

Men's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Sydney Sevens

v. Wales - W 42-0

v. Japan - W 33-17

v. England - L 17-14

Cup QF v. New Zealand - L 24-7

Plate SF v. Kenya - L 24-21