Eagles win big over France at Canada Sevens

VANCOUVER - The Men's Eagles Sevens opened their HSBC Canada Sevens campaign with a seven-try, 42-14, defeat of France Saturday to take an early lead atop Pool D.

Mike Friday's squad took a 28-0 lead into halftime and debutant Seth Halliman capped the match with his first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series career try at BC Place Stadium. The Eagles will continue pool play against England, defeated by New Zealand in the other Pool D matchup, at 2:34 p.m. PT.

Martin Iosefo helped win the ball from France's opening kickoff and opened the scoring following a phase with a fend at the gain line. The 60-meter try was converted by captain Madison Hughes, who was a perfect five-for-five on the extra pointers, for a 7-0 lead.

Both teams turned over possession in the ensuing minutes, and a chase from Perry Baker forced France into a misplaced pass. The Eagles settled the attack and created depth to give Baker just enough space to race away for the lead-doubling try at five minutes.

France mishandled the restart for a U.S. scrum, and Folau Niua saw the French sweeper out of position. He kicked the ball through the defense and Baker circled around from the wing to corral it and step between two defenders for the try - the 50th of his career - and 21-0 lead.

The Eagles went forward with each offload on their next possession, with Hughes juking two defenders in the attacking half and young Ben Pinkelman strong in meters after contact. Garrett Bender found a gap in the defensive line to finish the half off with a try.

Friday's team came out poised in the second half, not content with a 28-0 lead in a tough pool. Baker jumped higher than the lifted Frenchman on the second-half restart and Pinkelman stole the ball from France's reach, and a swift attack with several offloads saw Hughes over the line for the try.

France cut into the Eagles' lead in the ninth minute, overcoming a few tackles from Baker for Julien Candelon to bring the score to 35-7. A penalty in the 13th minute led to Theo Millet scoring, as well, to cut the U.S. lead to 35-14.

Pinkelman won the ball back before the final whistle with a tackle and quick work in the breakdown and popped the ball from the ground to Halliman. The Central Washington University student-athlete had no defenders in front of him from inside his own half and ended the match with his first try and conversion on the circuit.

The 42-14 win gives the U.S. a 21-point cushion over New Zealand in the Pool D table, with England, in third, ahead in the next matchup. The Eagles' match will kick off at 2:34 p.m. PT and will be streamed live on World Rugby's website.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. France

1. Thretton Palamo

2. Ben Pinkelman

3. Danny Barrett

4. Garrett Bender

5. Ben Leatigaga

6. Pat Blair

7. Folau Niua

8. Seth Halliman

9. Nate Augspurger

10. Madison Hughes (C)

11. Perry Baker

12. Martin Iosefo

France | v. USA

1. Jonathan Laugel

2. Manoel Dall Igna

3. Jean Baptiste Mazoue

4. Terry Bouhraoua

5. Stephen Parez

6. Steeve Barry

7. Damien Cler

8. Pierre Gilles Lakafia

9. Jeremy Aicardi

10. Julien Candelon

11. Sacha Valleau

12. Theo Millet

Men's Eagles Sevens | 42

Tries: Iosefo, Baker (2), Bender, Hughes, Halliman

Conversions: Hughes (5), Halliman

France | 14

Tries: Candelon, Millet

Conversions: Bouhraoua

Men's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Canada Sevens

v. France - W 42-14

v. England - Saturday, March 12 @ 2:34 p.m. PT

v. New Zealand - Saturday, March 12 @ 6:44 p.m. PT