USA Eagles
12
Argentina
28
Men's Sevens
Cape Town Stadium
Men's Sevens@Cape Town Stadium
December 10, 20171:10 pm EEST
Cape Town Sevens
Referee: Craig Joubert, South Africa

USA Falls to Argentina in Cup Quarter Finals for First Cape Town Loss

Men's Eagles Sevens concede victory to early mistakes and a tough defense  |    Mike Lee

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - The Men's Sevens Eagles were handed their first loss of the Cape Town Sevens Tournament today, falling to Argentina 12-28 in the Cup Quarter Finals. The Eagles tried to match a tough opposing defense but came up short on possession, scoring only two tries and being forced to the 5th place Semifinal where they'll face France at 9:12 AM ET, LIVE on ESPN3. 

Head Coach Mike Friday and his squad look upon today's performance acknowledging their mistakes and preparing for what's to come. 

"We are all very disappointed in the way we played this last game. It's another tough lesson and we have to work harder at flattening out the highs and lows," said Friday. "We need to bounce back in this next game and provide a performance." 

We are all very disappointed in the way we played this last game. It's another tough lesson and we have to work harder at flattening out the highs and lows.
Mike Friday, Head Coach

Coming into the match winning five out of their last six against the Argentinians, the Eagles earned the ball in a scrum from an early knock on, but were unable to keep it in play. A strong Argentina defense halted the United States' gain of territory, preventing an offload between Captain Madison Hughes and Danny Barrett to move past the 10-meter line. 

Early mistakes cost the USA, as Barrett's lack of release on an ensuing tackle gave Argentina's Franco Sabato favorable pitch position for the opening score, 0-7. After the try, the Eagles' opponent moved up the board again, as Luataro Bazan Velez picked up the ball from a tackled Rodrigo Etchart for a pick-and-go that extended the lead to 14. 

Though the Eagles handled the ball well, early mistakes and a territorial defense held them from advancing. With two minutes to go, another knock on gave USA the ball with Fulau Niua missing the kick out of touch. Then on the final play, Hughes won the ball and passed it through the forward pack  to Carlin Isles whom the U.S. hoped could drive it in along the outside. After an almost drive, Isles was stopped short and the Eagles ended the half scoreless. 

A mistake on the second-half kickoff gifted Argentina more possession; and though they were unable to move it, an Eagle penalty gave them a second chance. The Argentinians then passed the ball with patience -- looking for a gap to break through -- when Conrado Roura found space to run up the middle and reach across the line for the dot down, 0-21. 

By this point the Eagles' had enough. Ben Pinkelman went high to snag the ball, putting it into play and allowing Stephen Tomasin to sneak away from defenders with a long run for the first USA try, 5-21.  

Immediately after, the United States recovered the ball and gained enough territory for Niua to take it in, 12-21.

In the final minute, Argentina's Luciano Gonzalez scored for the 12-28 lead before the final play. At this point, the United States knew it was crucial to recapture their momentum and sent Niua over the line in what they hoped would cut the deficit to 9 points. In an unfortunate turn of events, the TMO stripped Niua of the try, freezing the score at 12-28 and confirming the Eagles first loss of the tournament. 

 USA RUGBY MEN'S SEVENS ROSTER | Cape Town 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. Kevon Williams
12. Martin Iosefo
13. Naima Fuala'au 

USA RUGBY MEN'S SEVENS STAFF | Cape Town 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 | Cape Town Sevens

Saturday, Dec. 9 | ESPN 3 | Pool B
vs. New Zealand - 0-22 (W)
vs. Australia - 14-31 (W) 
vs. Spain  - 5-26 (W)

Sunday, Dec. 10 | ESPN3

Cup Quarter Finals
vs. Argentina - 12-28 (L)

5th Place Semifinal
vs. France - 9:12 AM ET 

Head Coach Mike Friday and the Eagles look to their next matchup prepared for a competitive fight. 

"France will be another physical encounter and we will need to be smart with the ball in hand, and up for the challenge on defense," says Friday. 

The Eagles will begin their battle for fifth place against a France team who just suffered a 35-7 loss to Canada. The match (5th Place Semifinal) will begin at 9:12 AM ET, broadcast LIVE on ESPN3 with updates also available by following @USARugby on Twitter.