Twelve points the prize for Eagles in Canada

VANCOUVER - HSBC Canada Sevens came to a sour end for the Men's Eagles Sevens Sunday in a 31-19 loss to Samoa in the Plate Final.

The U.S. finishes the first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stop to be held in Canada with a 3-3 record and 12 points towards the Series standings, where Mike Friday's team remains in fifth with four legs of the season remaining.

Both teams created their own turnovers in the opening minutes of the match, with a third-minute counterruck in the Eagles' defensive side of the pitch giving Samoa possession in a dangerous position. A break through the gain line was followed up with a pop pass to Belgium Tuatagaoaloa for the match's first try and 7-0 lead to Samoa.

The Eagles had performed as well as they could have on restarts throughout the first five matches at BC Place Stadium, but allowed Samoa time with ball in hand from the set piece in the Plate Final. Perry Baker's attempted tackle in the fifth minute was not enough to keep Tomasi Alosio from offloading to Alefosio Tapili for a 12-0 lead.

Garrett Bender helped bring the Eagles back within contention with a barging run from a quick tap outside his own posts. The forward stretched his legs across the pitch and stepped the sweeper, Phoenix Hunapo-Nofoa, before giving the ball to captain Madison Hughes for the try, which brought the halftime score to 12-7.

Ben Pinkelman was a man possessed on both sides of the ball Sunday, and followed up any transgressions in the Final with tenacious work in the breakdown to win back possession. The Eagles were not able to keep hold of the ball in an offensive ruck in the ninth minute, and Hunapo-Nofoa capitalized on the turnover with an offload to Alex Samoa to extend his side's lead to 19-7.

A long tournament for the Eagles included three matches in the "pool of death" with France, England, and New Zealand, followed by a 16-minute Cup Quarterfinal match against Fiji the next day. Friday used his reserves, including debutants Seth Halliman and Ben Leatigaga, in the second half to help bring fresh legs into the match, but Samoa was able to extend the lead once again in the 11th minute. Alamanda Motuga caught the restart and offloaded to his onrushing teammate, Alosio, for a 26-7 score line.

Nate Augspurger singlehandedly created the Eagles' second try with a length spell of ball-in-hand play, taking the attack from the defensive half to the Samoan 22, twisting and turning to keep out of any tackles. The Eagles rushed in support and Hughes was the benefactor for a try beside the posts.

Samoa would end any hope of a U.S. win with a final try in the 13th minute for a 31-14 lead, but the more inexperienced Eagles on the team played straight-forward rugby in the final minute to see Leatigaga over the line for his first career try. The conversion was not successful for a 31-19 final.

The Eagles will head back to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., to regroup and recover for the Sevens Series run-in, which begins with Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens April 8-10.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. Samoa

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

Samoa | v. USA

1. Alefosio Tapili

2. Faalemiga Selesele

3. Telea Seumanutafa

4. Savelio Ropati

5. Ed Fidow

6. Phoenix Hunapo-Nofoa

7. Alex Samoa

8. Tomasi Alosio

9. Tila Mealoi

10. Samoa Toloa

11. Belgium Tuatagoaloa

12. Alamanda Motuga

Men's Eagles Sevens | 19

Tries: Hughes (2), Leatigaga

Conversions: Hughes (2)

Samoa | 31

Tries: Tuatagaloa, Tapili, Samoa (2), Alosio

Conversions: Toloa (3)

Men's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Canada Sevens

v. France - W 42-14

v. England - W 17-12

v. New Zealand - L 17-5

Cup QF v. Fiji - L 31-26

Plate SF v. Wales - W 38-12

Plate Final v. Samoa - L 31-19