Eagles slip into Vegas Cup Quarterfinals

LAS VEGAS - Second-ranked England's second-half comeback ended the Men's Eagles Sevens' hopes of topping their HSBC USA Sevens pool Saturday in a 27-14 result at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Head Coach Mike Friday's squad continued its strong run of play in its home tournament - the fifth round of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series - in the first half against England, but conceded the win with three late tries going the other way. The Eagles will play Pool C champion Argentina in Saturday night's Cup Quarterfinals at 11:38 p.m. ET, with the live stream available on NBC Sports' digital platforms.

"The reality is we executed perfectly in the first seven minutes and were in control of the game," Friday said post-match. "We were getting all of those little wins we want to see. Fair play to England; they showed control and composure to go out and win that game, but they were gifted it by us."

The entire match was a flurry of action in pace and physicality, though the first half set the tone for the 14-minute encounter. The Eagles used their first possession from a penalty win in the breakdown to slot Martin Iosefo through for the opening try just a minute into the game, and Perry Baker outraced Dan Norton in the fifth minute to extend the team's lead to 12-0.

An error in an attacking lineout in England's half gave the opposition a chance to counter, with a pass to Norton on the wing catching Baker just out of position. The England speedster chipped a short kick over Folau Niua to collect and put his side on the scoreboard, 12-5, heading into the break.

The Eagles took it to England in the first few minutes of the second half despite two instances of throwing possession away into touch. They stole the lineouts on both occasions, and a penalty call in front of the posts saw Niua find Ben Pinkelman out wide. The Colorado State University graduate dove for the line through a defender's tackle to pad the lead at 17-5 with three minutes to play.

In the game of sevens, three minutes is plenty of time to score three, four, or even five tries. England only needed two to tie the game, and Richard de Carpentier and Tom Mitchell obliged their team with scores before the final horn. Mitchell's successful conversion of the second try, which leveled the match at 17-17, was taken with no time on the clock, but the match official allowed one final restart.

The Eagles were unable to control the kick, and a quick Tom Bowen rounded the corner for a dot-down to give England the victory and No. 1 seed from Pool B.


View match stats on Trenarian.com


"It wasn't our accuracy with ball in hand; it was our ability to stay on task defensively to hold our shape and execute. Everything [England] got came from people leaving the system trying to solve problems they couldn't solve on their own. If we get that bit right like we did yesterday we'll be a better team."

The Eagles are matched up with Argentina in the Cup Quarterfinals, which kick off at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday night. The 11:38 p.m. ET kickoff will be broadcast live to viewers in the United States online on NBC Sports' digital platforms.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. England
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

England | v. USA
1. Richard de Carpentier
2. Charlie Hayter
3. Phil Burgess
4. Dan Norton
5. James Rodwell
6. Tom Mitchell
7. Dan Bibby
8. Tom Bowen
9. Oliver Lindsay-Hague
10. Ruaridh McConnochie
11. Ethan Waddleton
12. Alex Davis
13. Charlton Kerr

Men's Eagles Sevens | 17
Tries: Iosefo, Baker, Pinkelman
Conversions: Hughes

England | 24
Tries: Norton, de Carpentier, Mitchell, Bowen
Conversions: Mitchell (2)

Men's Eagles Sevens | HSBC USA Sevens
v. Samoa - W 26-5
v. Chile - W 31-0
v. England - W 24-17
Cup QF v. Argentina - Saturday, March 4 @ 11:38 p.m. ET