Team USA shuts out Rio 2016 hosts

RIO DE JANEIRO - Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games host Brazil penetrated the Fijian defense twice Tuesday, but could not repeat the same feat against a resurgent Team USA in a 26-0 loss in the second round of Rugby Sevens pool play at Deodoro Stadium.

Nate Ebner scored a try in his first start at the Games, and spent two minutes at the end of the game in the sin bin for a hit that would not have looked out of place had he been wearing a New England Patriots jersey. Rio's Day Four is over for the U.S., which will recoup tonight prior to two matches Wednesday. World Rugby Sevens Series champion Fiji awaits in the final match of pool play - set to kick off at 12:30 p.m. ET and broadcast on USA - to determine which teams will advance to the Quarterfinals, which begin Wednesday evening.

"It's the global event everybody hoped for," Friday said at the end of the first day of the Rugby Sevens competition. "It's cutthroat. Nobody's assured of anything, and everybody is capable of beating anybody. That is what we're seeing so far today.

"That's the beauty of this sport, that's why everyone enjoys this sport, and that's why the world is being exposed to it in the Olympics. It's true competition."

Argentina's last-second try in the teams' meeting earlier in the day in Brazil put the U.S. on the wrong end of the table heading into the second round of pool play. Fiji had earlier defeated Brazil, 40-12, though the "home" team showed plenty of promise with possession. Brazil started its second match with ball in hand, but only got as far as the 22 before Madison Hughes took the ball in the breakdown.

Penalties killed momentum for Friday's charges throughout the game, and it was the strong play of Ben Pinkelman on both sides of the ball in the first half that provided an advantage. Brazil kicked to touch from one penalty following a lineout on the other side of the field, and Pinkelman stole the ball to give his team possession. Perry Baker whisked through the defensive line to gain midfield before support arrived in the form of Ebner, who found Pinkelman for the final offload to Folau Niua for the opening try.

Baker's track and field attributes were on display on the Olympic stage with a high jump on the ensuing restart to win possession, but the attack fizzled out to a knock at the 22 phases later. Moises Duque was shown a yellow card in the final minute of the half, and a strong run from Pinkelman down the touch line drew in the defense for Ebner to dive over the line in the next phase.

The 14-0 halftime lead was nearly extended by Chris Wyles in the eighth minute. Also making his first start of the campaign, Wyles was set free following a Pinkelman/Ebner attack, but a tackle a few meters from the try line kept the Saracens man from scoring. His offload was also lost forward, but Pinkelman won the ball back for the U.S. a couple of set pieces later in a defensive lineout.

The teams traded penalties in the middle of the half, with the U.S. failing to capitalize on Brazil's failed put-ins. Ebner's yellow card came in the 11th minute for an apparent late tackle attempt as a Brazilian passed the ball to the touch line. Carlin Isles stepped onto the field for the first time this tournament and made several crucial tackles with the man-disadvantage, and scored his first Olympic try in the 14th minute when Brazil captain Lucas Duque was sent to the bin. The U.S. won a lineout in the attacking half and Maka Unufe sent the ball to Isles in the middle of the field for the straight sprint to the corner.

Unufe finished off the scoring before time expired with a determined run through two defenders in front of the posts, dotting down underneath for Hughes to convert for the 26-0 final score.

"Again we didn't perform to our ability," Friday said, also referencing the opening match of Pool A. "That's the cold, hard fact of the matter. Yes, we got the win. Yes, we scored 26 points. But we're all about the standards we set for ourselves. We probably left another 20 points out there and that's crucial in this tournament. Winning is one thing, but making sure we maximize our winning is important in a tournament of this nature, and that was the opportunity against Brazil.

"We've got to be brutal on ourselves. We're going up against the world's best tomorrow and, as a consequence, we've got to make sure we have our game where we need it to be. We've got to make sure we focus on us and make sure we do our basics right, execute what we want to execute, and get our details where we need to."

Fiji won its second match of the day at Argentina's expense, holding on to the top spot in Pool A with a plus-35 point differential. Team USA is now level in second with Argentina, currently above the first-round foe with a better point differential (and fourth-best point differential of the competition).

The back-to-back Series champion has already brought the Rio crowd to its feet on multiple occasions in two matches, and brings a 1-4 record against the U.S. from the 2015-16 Series season into the final matchup of pool play.

"There's no foregone winner in this competition; no sure thing," Friday said. "There's a favorite in Fiji and the pressure's on them to deliver. The reality is, on any given day, if you slack there's a chance of being knocked over, and that's already happened to a couple of teams.

"We know who we're playing against. Every game we've played against them this year has been a tight affair. We know what we need to get right, we know what we need to be better at, and it's clear from today's games. We need to go out there and execute. We'll make sure we're defensively tight, we're where we need to be, and that we're up for the challenge.

"It's going to be one hell of a challenge we're going to face tomorrow."

Team USA's final match of pool play Wednesday will kick off at 12:30 p.m. ET. The live broadcast will be aired to viewers in the United States on USA, with a live stream available on NBCOlympics.com.

Team USA Rugby Sevens | v. Brazil
1. Carlin Isles
2. Ben Pinkelman
3. Danny Barrett
4. Garrett Bender
5. Zack Test
6. Andrew Durutalo
7. Folau Niua
8. Maka Unufe
9. Chris Wyles
10. Madison Hughes
11. Perry Baker
12. Nate Ebner

Team USA Rugby Sevens Squad | Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games
v. Argentina - L 17-14
v. Brazil - W 26-0
v. Fiji - Wednesday, Aug. 10 @ 12:30 p.m. ET - LIVE on USA & online