South Africa wins pool as Eagles qualify for Vegas Cup with loss

LAS VEGAS - An HSBC USA Sevens Cup Quarterfinal spot was secured prior to the Men's Eagles Sevens' final pool match against South Africa, though Head Coach Mike Friday will not be pleased with the 29-0 shutout dealt to his team Saturday afternoon.

Continuity was hard to come by for the U.S., which will face Pool A-topper Kenya in Saturday's Cup Semifinal. The Kenyans have already beaten the Eagles twice in knockout round play during the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, but will need to contend with a determined opponent and American-heavy supporters section at Sam Boyd Stadium in the 5:31 p.m. PT matchup. Live broadcast coverage from Las Vegas begins at 4:30 p.m. PT.

The Eagles were hemmed into their own half for much of the opening seven minutes. They began the match with the ball, which was grabbed from the kickoff by Zack Test, but Folau Niua bundled it into touch following a lineout. Despite forcing South Africa into losing the ball forward, the Blitzbokke won the ensuing scrum and a successive penalty before swinging the play wide to Chris Dry for the match's first try.

Perry Baker brought the crowd to its feet Friday night with two highlight-reel tries against Canada, and brought the Eagles into attacking territory by wrong-footing fellow speedster Seabelo Senatla. A penalty called at the 10 ended the attack, however, and Senatla punished the ill discipline with a try in the corner in the dying seconds of the first frame.

Even with the 14-0 score line set to worsen for the U.S., the Eagles had a few players banged up during the second half. Will Holder received a knee to the head in making a tackle in the build up to Senatla's eighth-minute try, and Baker also needed a substitution by the time Dylan Sage crossed over in the 11th minute. South Africa extended its 24-0 lead in the 13th minute when a U.S. scrum five metres from its try line was lost for Cecil Afrika to bring the final score to 29-0.

The Eagles' Quarterfinal opponent has reached the Bowl Final in the past two seasons at Sam Boyd Stadium, and won the Bowl a year ago. Saturday's match between the Eagles and Coach Friday's previous team will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network from 5:31 p.m. PT.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. South Africa

1. Carlin Isles

2. Ben Pinkelman

3. Danny Barrett

4. Garrett Bender

5. Zack Test

6. Will Holder

7. Folau Niua

8. Maka Unufe

9. Nate Augspurger

10. Madison Hughes (C)

11. Perry Baker

12. Martin Iosefo

South Africa | v. USA

1. Chris Dry

2. Dylan Sage

3. Tim Agaba

4. Kwagga Smith

5. Bryan Habana

6. Kyle Brown

7. Branco du Preez

8. Rosko Specman

9. Justin Geduld

10. Cecil Afrika

11. Seabelo Senatla

12. Ruhan Nel

Men's Eagles Sevens | 0

Tries: N/A

Conversions: N/A

South Africa | 29

Tries: Dry, Senatla (2), Sage, Afrika

Conversions: Geduld (2)

Men's Eagles Sevens | HSBC USA Sevens

v. Wales - W 19-12

v. Canada - D 26-26

v. South Africa - L 29-0

Cup QF v. Kenya - Saturday, March 5 @ 5:31 p.m. PT