Eagles in pole position for Vegas Quarterfinal

LAS VEGAS - Martin Iosefo scored two first-half tries in the USA Men's Eagles Sevens' 31-0 defeat of Chile Friday night at HSBC USA Sevens.

The win is the second in two games for the Eagles at Sam Boyd Stadium following a hard-working defeat of Samoa. Head Coach Mike Friday's squad is currently atop Pool B on point differential, with its final opponent, England, not far behind. The two will square off in the final match of pool play Saturday at 7:24 p.m. ET, with the live broadcast available on NBC Sports' digital platforms.

"Against a team like Chile - I know they're not on the circuit - you can't take it lightly," Iosefo said post-match. "We needed momentum going into Saturday. Our focus now is winning the recovery. Now that the game's over we need to get the nutrition and rest. England's a top team and we need to top our pool to progress forward."

England had also put up 31 points on Chile earlier in the day, but conceded a try in its matchup. The Eagles did not, though it took them a few minutes to get the attack going. The initial possession ended with a pass thrown into touch before the U.S. won a penalty for a lineout. Though it was lost forward, the Eagles overturned the Chilean scrum and captain Madison Hughes' grubber inside the 22 sat up for Iosefo's first try in the third minute.

The hometown crowd cheered for Danny Barrett's hit in the fifth minute, which preceded Ben Pinkleman's turnover inside the Eagles' end. Hughes sent a defender to the artificial turf with a turn of pace before offloading to Iosefo in support for his second try and a 12-0 U.S. lead.

Perry Baker finally found some running room in the final minute of the half, but was ultimately brought to the ground ahead of the try line. A skip pass from Hughes that traveled nearly the width of the field found the awaiting arms of Pinkelman, and Barrett gave his Olympic teammate an option out wide for the 19-0 score - and Barrett's fourth try in two games.

At the onset of the second half, Baker brought the crowd to its feet with a spectacular individual run and team-friendly finish. Eyeing the space along the touch line from behind the 22, the wing split two defenders, spun out of a tackle, and spun around another defender with pace entering the attacking half. Niua and Tomasin were following their teammate as best they could, but the selfless offload eluded Tomasin's grasp.

Joaquin Huici tried his best to get Baker to sprint in the 10th minute with a grubber at the U.S. 22. The Eagle wing beat him to the ball in the try zone for Niua to send the ball long from the 22-meter lineout. Chile was able to sustain pressure in the attacking zone until a loose ball was collected by Pinkelman near midfield, and the Colorado State University graduate fed Tomasin for a 50-meter try and 26-0 lead.


View match stats on Trenarian.com


Reserves Andrew Durutalo and Maka Unufe combined to win the ensuing restart and played catch to bring the Eagles close to the try line again, and Pat Blair scored his first try of the season from a ruck just meters away. Debutant Walt Elder also received a taste of the Series in the dying minutes as the Eagles protected a 31-point advantage, and drew a penalty in the tackle area in front of the U.S. posts to preserve the shutout.

"In this game of sevens it's critical that, when teams turn over the ball, we capitalize on it," Iosefo said. "Just like you saw tonight, when they did give us the ball we capitalized on it.

"We were pumped to play at home today and we wanted to give our home crowd what they deserve. If we could shut out every team like that the better it'd be for us as far as moving through the weekend."

England's five-point winning margin against Samoa puts it level with the Eagles on six competition points, but the Eagles' superior point differential of plus-52 - with England at plus-32 - sees the home team top Pool B after Day One. Their matchup Saturday will determine seeding into the Cup Quarterfinals, with both teams already qualified. The final pool play match will kick off at 7:24 p.m. ET, with the live broadcast available via NBC Sports' digital platforms to those with a valid subscription.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. Chile
1. Pat Blair
2. Ben Pinkelman
3. Danny Barrett
4. Matai Leuta
5. Walt Elder
6. Andrew Durutalo
7. Folau Niua
8. Maka Unufe
9. Stephen Tomasin
10. Madison Hughes (C)
11. Perry Baker
12. Martin Iosefo

Chile | v. USA
1. Felipe Brangier
2. Francisco Metuaze
3. Bernardo Moltedo
4. Marcelo Torrealba
5. Francisco Urroz
6. Lucas Westcott
7. Igancio Silva
8. Joaquin Huici
9. Benjamin De Vidts
10. Nicolas Herreros
11. Julio Blanc
12. Martin Raddatz
13. Vicenta Ayarza

Men's Eagles Sevens | 31
Tries: Iosefo (2), Barrett, Tomasin, Blair
Conversions: Hughes (2), Tomasin

Chile | 0
Tries: N/A
Conversions: N/A

Men's Eagles Sevens | HSBC USA Sevens
v. Samoa - W 26-5
v. Chile - W 31-0
v. England - Saturday, March 4 @ 7:24 p.m. ET