Men's Sevens
14 7
Samoa
26 12
Men's Sevens  @ The Sevens Stadium
Dubai Sevens
  Rasta Rasivhenge, South Africa
Pool Play - Pool D

Men's Eagles Brought Down by Samoa in Second Pool D Matchup

Defensive struggles and limited possession forced the Men's Eagles Sevens into their second loss in Pool D, where the Samoan offense controlled the playing field to a 14-26 advantage. Playing with structure and taking advantage of U.S. miscues, Samoa held strong in their own territory holding the United States to only two tries and allowing them a gain of only one point in the tournament standings.

The Eagles went into the match without World Rugby Player of the Year Perry Baker who sits out following concussion protocol. Though the loss of Perry shifted the team dynamic, Head Coach Mike Friday is still evaluating Perry's jump into the HSBC Series, while keeping his squad focused on making improvements in Dubai. 

"We're still assessing whether Perry will be fit to play next week in Cape Town," said Coach Friday. "We didn't perform to the best of our ability today and made some uncharacteristic errors at crucial times. It's all things that we're doing and all things that are 100% solvable." 

Though Baker was out of the lineup, the Eagles came into the opening kickoff with energy, allowing speedy Carlin Isles to steal the ball right away and make a quick run before spinning out of the line and falling just shy of the tryline. Samoa took advantage immediately, however, placing the ball in the hands of Joe Perez who showed his expedience by running it down the right flank and driving it in for the first Samoan try.

The United States would get two more cracks at possession shortly after but were outplayed by a polished defense who wasted no time putting more points on the board. First, a beautiful catch off a Samoan kickoff put the ball in the hands of Eagle Ben Pinkelman who was tactfully stopped from earning any ground. Then, a lineout overthrown by the Eagles plunged the ball into Tila Mealoi's hands who wasted no time earning Samoa their second score.

Now down 12 points, Captain Madison Hughes was not willing to accept a shutout. When play resumed, he skillfully snagged possession of the ball and tossed it to his left where it eventually found Danny Barrett who dashed it in to earn the U.S. their very own try. The final play of the half almost saw Joe Perez score again until Carlin Isles got underneath his opponent to stop the drive and send both teams back to their sidelines.

With the United States finally on the board, the Eagles needed to bring more physicality and improve their ball-handling in order to turn the match around. Though both teams returned to the pitch prepared to make a stance, Samoa became increasingly difficult to defend.

Driving momentum from their scoring abilities in the first half, the Eagles opponent took the first two tries of the second half. The first, came when Samoa's Alatasi Tupou found Joe Perez who darted through U.S. territory to bring their lead up to 19 and findally earn his second try. The second, when tackling difficulties got the best of the Eagles and sent Alamanda Motuga in to stamp the victory.

With only one minute left, USA's Maka Unufe was determined to score again and finally broke the gain line to cut the deficit to 12 points before the final whistle.

USA RUGBY MEN'S SEVENS ROSTER | Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens
1. Carlin Isles
2. Ben Pinkelman
3. Danny Barrett
4. Matai Leuta
5. Joe Schroeder
6. Malon Al Jiboori
7. Folau Niua
8. Maka Unufe
9. Stephen Tomasin
10. Madison Hughes (Captain)
11. Martin Iosefo
12. Naima Fualaau

USA RUGBY MEN'S SEVENS STAFF | Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens

Head Coach - Mike Friday
Assistant Coach - Chris Brown
Physio - Brian Green
Team Analyst - Paul Goulding
Team Manager - Scott Novack

USA RUGBY MEN'S SEVENS SCHEDULE | Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens

Friday, Dec. 1
vs. Argentina - 14-22 (L)
vs. Samoa - 14-26 (L)
vs New Zealand - 9:22 AM ET

The Eagles are currently in fourth-place of Pool D and will face New Zealand in their final matchup of pool play at 9:22 AM ET, LIVE on ESPN3 and WorldRugby.org. Updates are also available by following @USARugby on Twitter.