Undefeated pool play slips away from Eagles in loss to England

SYDNEY, Australia - The Men's Eagles Sevens missed out on the top seed from HSBC Sydney Sevens' Pool D Saturday with a 17-14 defeat to England at Allianz Stadium.

Perry Baker saw his sixth try of the day taken away in the first half and the Eagles watched a minute of play tick away at the end of the match, and the result sets up Mike Friday's squad for a Cup Quarterfinal against New Zealand at 7:35 p.m. ET.

England, which took to the pitch with just three players on the substitutes bench, opened the scoring in the second minute of play. With possession from the kickoff, the Eagles' opponent found itself in the attacking half, and Tom Mitchell found Alex Gray running a switch for the try in the corner. Martin Iosefo, who joined up with Friday's squad following the losses of Kevin Swiryn and Brett Thompson last weekend, suffered an injury on the play and did not return to the match.

Watch Day Two of HSBC Sydney Sevens

The Eagles seemingly hit back quickly, with Danny Barrett barreling over multiple defenders before captain Madison Hughes was taken down with a high tackle meters in front of the try line. With the advantage played, Baker received the ball on the opposite touch line and beat his opposite number to the try zone, where he attempted to center the ball close to the posts. In doing so, however, he put a foot into touch behind the in-goal area, which was caught by the chasing England player and the assistant referee.

England was given a 22-meter drop, from which the Eagles went back to work. Barrett again muscled his way through a few defenders on the wing, but a tackle around the neck brought him to the ground with force, jarring the ball loose. Possession was lost and then there for the taking with the ball bouncing loose from the Eagles' counterruck, but it fell to Barrett, who was called offside.

The play was settled for a few moments as England set up its midfield lineout, and Tom Bowen weaved through the U.S. defense just inside its half. He could not reach the try line, but Alex Davis supported the play to get over through a tackle from Hughes. Mitchell converted the try for a 12-0 lead with a minute remaining in the half.

Baker took it upon himself to beat all seven defenders on the pitch as the halftime whistle neared, and nearly did so with a meandering run from inside his own half. What would have been a try-of-the-year candidate turned into a scoring opportunity for Zack Test, who called for the ball from Barrett on the wing. The Eagles' all-time leading try-scorer saw enough of a hole and beat the defenders, panting from Baker's run, to the try zone.

Friday calmly discussed what needed to be done in the second half to see the Eagles to victory from 12-7 down during his halftime team talk, but it was England that went onto the front foot after the break. A loose pass from Thretton Palamo sent Folau Niua chasing backwards in the defensive half of the pitch, and England stole the ball in the breakdown before Mitchell took a lane to the try line, just beating the closing Baker.

The 17-7 deficit shrunk in the 12th minute after Hughes set Will Holder loose with a quick offload at midfield. Carlin Isles followed to get the Eagles near the 22, and played scrum half after Matai Leuta went into contact. He sent the ball to the first receiver, Test, who batted the ball over to Barrett to avoid a tackle and give the forward the try-scoring opportunity. Barrett dove in-goal towards the posts and Hughes expertly converted to bring the Eagles within three points at 17-14.

With just over a minute remaining in the match, the Eagles were called for a match-ending penalty, though the ball was lost forward by England in a wild tackle area. England utilized every second at its disposal to kick to touch and take the lineout, at which time only one pass could be completed before the hooter sounded. With a win in hand, England kicked to touch again to signal the end of the match.

The Eagles will be disappointed to not have finished first in their pool despite a superior point differential and hard-fought match against England, but are still in the Cup round of the fourth leg of the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Sunday's Cup Quarterfinal against New Zealand will be streamed live on World Rugby's website from 7:35 p.m. ET.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. England

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

England | v. USA

1. Richard de Carpentier

2. Jack Wilson

3. Warwick Lahmert

4. Alex Davis

5. James Rodwell

6. Tom Mitchell

7. Dan Bibby

8. Tom Bowen

9. Cameron Cowell

10. Ruaridh McConnochie

11. Ethan Waddleton

12. Alex Gray

Men's Eagles Sevens | 14

Tries: Test, Barrett

Conversions: Hughes (2)

England | 17

Tries: Gray, Davis, Mitchell

Conversions: Mitchell

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 - Saturday, Feb. 6 @ 7:35 p.m. ET