Baker, Hughes lead Eagles to London Cup Quarterfinal rout of New Zealand

LONDON - The Men's Eagles Sevens matched New Zealand's play for seven minutes of Sunday's HSBC London Sevens Cup Quarterfinal and outscored their opposition six tries to two over 14 minutes in a 42-14 victory.

Perry Baker dotted down twice in each half and captain Madison Hughes converted all six tries as the U.S. set a record for points it has scored against New Zealand on the circuit. The Eagles will continue their London title defense in the Cup Semifinal against Scotland at 10:10 a.m. ET.

New Zealand lost Sonny Bill Williams to an injury after Folau Niua's opening restart did not travel 10 meters, staying down on the field from a Martin Iosefo tackle. Play continued until a penalty against the Eagles afforded a substitution, but Reiko Ioane scored when play resumed with a step inside Zack Test 15 meters from the try line.

Baker was denied his first attempt at a patented sprinter's try in the second minute, but benefitted from brilliant team interplay in the fourth for the Eagles' reply. Iosefo tested a gap in the New Zealand defense to create space for his one-handed offload to Hughes, who switched the play back to Ben Pinkelman and then Baker along the touch line. The wing still had two defenders to beat, and cut towards the middle past them both for the dot-down beneath the posts.

Pinkelman won the ball back at midfield for the Eagles in the sixth minute with an aggressive defense on Gillies Kaka, but a misplaced pass from Iosefo bounced into the path of Lewis Ormond for a 14-7 New Zealand lead.

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The Eagles controlled the ball from the ensuing restart, and Zack Test broke through the middle of the defense for a run to the New Zealand 10. The breakdown was not contested, and the U.S. was able to cycle the ball quickly to the wing. Baker challenged Regan Ware to a race and won it to put the ball down behind the posts.

New Zealand did not touch the ball to open the second half before the Eagles found the try zone again, as a U.S. lineout 10 meters from its try line led to space out wide. Baker popped the ball up at the 10 to his captain running a line around the tackle area, and Hughes reached the 22, where the Eagles reset the attack. It came back to Hughes for a grubber kick and chase for a 21-14 lead.

A forward pass nullified New Zealand's restart win, and the scrum win came to Baker in the middle of the field. The speedster showed he had more tricks in his book with a windy run through the resetting defense to extend the Eagles' lead to 28-14.

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New Zealand lost the 12th-minute restart forward, and Thretton Palamo went outside Niua as Hughes came 'round for the offload. He burst through the gap Palamo created and found Baker out wide for a slide into the corner of the try zone.

Maka Unufe started the final try-scoring attack by knocking the restart back to Ben Leatigaga. The U.S. Army World-Class Athlete Program Eagle gave the ball to Palamo, who found contact five meters from the line. Pinkelman took the ball forward through a double tackle to reach into the in-goal area, bringing the final score to 42-14.

The Eagles' last two HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament exits have come at the hands of Scotland, which beat London Sevens host England in the Cup Quarterfinals Sunday. The Cup Semifinal clash will kick off from Twickenham Stadium at 10:10 a.m. ET, with the live broadcast available on World Rugby's website.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. New Zealand
1. Ben Leatigaga
2. Ben Pinkelman
3. Danny Barrett
4. Garrett Bender
5. Zack Test
6. Thretton Palamo
7. Folau Niua
8. Maka Unufe
9. Nate Augspurger
10. Madison Hughes (C)
11. Perry Baker
12. Martin Iosefo

New Zealand | v. USA
1. Akira Ioane
2. Tim Mikkelson
3. Regan Ware
4. Lewis Ormond
5. Teddy Stanaway
6. Augustine Pulu
7. Pita Ahki
8. Gillies Kaka
9. Sione Molia
10. Rieko Ioane
11. Kurt Baker
12. Sonny Bill Williams

Men's Eagles Sevens | 42
Tries: Baker (4), Hughes, Pinkelman
Conversions: Hughes (6)

New Zealand | 14
Tries: R. Ioane, Ormond
Conversions: Kaka (2)

Men's Eagles Sevens | HSBC London Sevens
v. Samoa - W 12-5
v. South Africa - L 14-10
v. Canada - D 12-12
Cup QF v. New Zealand - W 42-14
Cup SF v. Scotland - Sunday, May 22 @ 10:10 a.m. ET