Men’s Eagles Sevens: 2018 Singapore Sevens Preview

Sixth ranked USA eyes a Top 4 finish as the final season stretch begins

  • Roster announced for eighth stop of the 2017-18 HSBC Series
  • Maka Unufe out with injury, Cody Melphy fills 13th spot 
  • France, England and Kenya fill Day One of competition 
  • Men's Sevens eye a top 4 finish to the season 

LAFAYETTE, CO. - In less than two weeks, the Men's Eagles Sevens will begin the eighth stop of the 2017-18 HSBC World Sevens Series at Singapore Sevens Apr. 28-29 (based on Eastern time), LIVE on ESPN3. After taking the silver at last year's 2017 tournament, and with Hong Kong adding 12 points to their current overall standing, the United States eyes a Top 4 finish as the season's final stretch begins.

THIS SERIES LAST STOP

Drawn in Pool D, the United States began the Hong Kong Sevens tournament with the challenge of overcoming France, Wales and Argentina. A little rusty at the start, the team rose to score two late tries and draw with France (24-24), went on a scoring spree to defeat Wales (47-5) and completed the circle with a 31-17 victory over Argentina in a rematch of the USA Sevens Cup Final.

Though  an unstoppable momentum was seemingly driving them forward, the Eagles fell to New Zealand 7-35 in the Cup Quarter Final. Then in contention for 5th place, the team beat Scotland 19-5 only to find themselves on the wrong side of a 14-12 result in their second match against Argentina and final of the tournament. 

WHO TO WATCH

After being helped off the field during the 5th Place Playoff in Hong Kong, Maka Unufe will remain out of competition to continue recovery. Malon Al-Jiboori will take the start in his stead while Cody Melphy -- who made his debut this season in Las Vegas --  rejoins the squad as the 13th man. 

Though Unufe remains out, Perry Baker and Carlin Isles  -- USA's two highest try scorers -- will be ready to take the pitch in Singapore. Baker, who currently sits atop all players in the Series with the most tries scored, will look to build on his 35 alongside Isles, who added another 7 to his 27 total tries in Hong Kong. 

Playmaker Folau Niua, the second highest point scorer on the team (tries + conversions), will bring his 136 total points to accompany the strong kicking leg and accuracy of newly returned Stephen Tomasin. Tomasin will equally be anxious to build on his 8 points from Hong Kong in pursuit of a promising finish to the season. 

THE COMPETITION

For the second tournament in a row, 10th place France will be the first team to face the United States on Day One (Sat, Apr. 28) at 12:30 AM ET. After claiming bronze at the Commonwealth Games, 8th place England - who has only faced the U.S. once this season - will follow, with a battle against a consistently improving 7th place Kenya to close out pool play.

HEAR IT FROM THE HEAD COACH, MIKE FRIDAY

On team mentality with a World Cup only months away...

"We are not thinking about the World Cup, just achieving our aims and progression on the Series which is to win cups and try to break into the top 4."

On the competition in Pool Play ...

"We have a huge physical challenge to progress out of our group with Kenya who has made the last two finals, as well as France who has a big physical team further strengthened with Terry Bouhraoua -- the 'little magician' -- back for them. England will be a totally different proposition in Singapore after the bronze medal they won at the Commonwealth Games, and will be hugely determined to write the wrong of a disappointing Hong Kong."

On the chance to rise in the rankings...

"We are more than capable of progressing if we play to our potential, respect the basics of the game and apply ourselves to each match."

MEN'S EAGLES SEVENS ROSTER | HSBC Singapore Sevens

1. Carlin Isles
2. Ben Pinkelman (C)
3. Danny Barrett
4. Matai Leuta
5. Brett Thompson
6. Malon Al-Jiboori 
7. Folau Niua
8. Chris Mattina
9. Stephen Tomasin
10. Kevon Williams
11. Perry Baker
12. Martin Iosefo
13. Cody Melphy

MEN'S EAGLES SEVENS STAFF | HSBC Singapore Sevens

Head Coach - Mike Friday
Assistant Coach - Jon Hood
Team Manager/Assistant Coach - Phil Greening 
Physiotherapist - Brian Green

MEN'S EAGLES SEVENS SCHEDULE | HSBC Singapore Sevens

LIVE on ESPN+ with paid subscription

vs. France | Sat, Apr. 28 - 12:30 AM ET
vs. England | Sat, Apr. 28 - 3:56 AM ET 
vs. Kenya | Sat, Apr. 28 - 7:44 AM ET

WHERE WE STAND

HSBC World Sevens Series Standing | 6th Place (85 pts)
Most Points Scored by a Team | USA, 5th (906)
Most Tries Scored by a Team | USA, 5th (142)
Most Conversions | USA, 4th (98)
Most Restarts | USA, 5th (153)
Most Points Scored by a Player | Perry Baker, 4th (177)
Most Tries Scored by a Player | Perry Baker, 1st (35) & Carlin Isles, 5th (27)
Most Conversions by a Player | Folau Niua, 4th (53)

TO SUM IT UP

Identifying their miscues and remaining focused on achieving a consistency in play, the Men's Eagles Sevens have reflected and regrouped for the upcoming battle. Eyes wide open to face France, England and Kenya in pool play, they now hunt for a top 4 finish with only three stops left to the season. Singapore Sevens will begin Sat, Apr. 28 (based on Eastern time) with all matches broadcast LIVE on ESPN3. Updates will also be available by following @USARugby on Twitter.