Men's Sevens
7 0
New Zealand
35 21
Men's Sevens  @ Hong Kong Stadium
Hong Kong Sevens
  Sam Grove-White
Cup Quarter Finals

Relentless New Zealand Hands USA First Loss

HONG KONG - This was not how the Eagles Sevens intended to finish the Cup Quarter Finals against New Zealand. Defensive gaps, difficulty tackling and a shortage in physicality was the pinnacle of all 5 opposing tries in the United States 7-35 loss at Hong Kong Stadium. With the 5th Place Semi Final against Scotland up next (3:17 AM ET on ESPN Networks), Head Coach Mike Friday and his squad will have much to discuss in order to secure the 13 points  still up for grabs. 

"We are hugely disappointed with how we played in the game. It is not the true reflection of us and how we represent our country," said Coach Friday. 

Initially, the Men's Eagles Sevens showed a taste of their ability to hide holes in defensive coverage of the All Blacks Sevens. But, in a matter of moments, New Zealand's Akuila Rokolisoa took advantage of sheer open space on the outside and drew first blood, 0-5. 

USA's Folau Niua had a nice breakaway shortly after but it didn't go far. A lineout error on the United States, a New Zealand scrum and the first of many missed tackles gave Joe Ravouvou the leeway to notch another, 0-12. 

Then, just as USA began to establish rhythm in their attack, Perry Baker was brought down and another turnover allowed Luke Masirewa to convert for more Kiwi points, 0-21. 

During halftime, Head Coach Mike Friday called for the squad to "be physical" and "make their tackles", a feat Captain Ben Pinkelman also encouraged in his teammates. 

But, when play resumed, the relentless strategies of the All Blacks Sevens exploited every mistake made available by the Men's Eagles Sevens. After Eagle Martin Iosefo dove over a New Zealand kick across the tryline to save the ball, USA knocked it on and the Kiwis' Akuila Rokolisoa earned his second try, 0-28. 

Still, following the 4th All Blacks Sevens score, the United States began to show life in their overall performance.

In forcing their opposition to a 5-minute scoring drought -- the longest of the match -- Carlin Isles found space along the right flank to end the shutout with just two minutes remaining, 7-28. 

Unfortunately, the lone score and a massive ensuing tackle by Isles were not enough to stop New Zealand's Salesi Rayasi from answering back. And, with the last Kiwi try, the United States conceded the Cup Quarter Final 7-35. 

"We can only apologize as it was just not good enough by us," said Head Coach Friday.  "We get to come back out in a couple of hours to restore pride in the shirt and ourselves. As a group, we have to meet the physical and mental challenge head on."

The Men's Eagles Sevens will return at 3:17 AM ET to face Scotland in the 5th Place Semi Final, LIVE on ESPN3. With 13 points up for grabs, there is still much to play for this Hong Kong Sevens weekend.

Men's Eagles Sevens Staff | Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens

Head Coach - Mike Friday

Strength & Conditioning Coach - Jon Hood

Physiotherapist - Brian Green

Team Manager - Scott Novack

Men's Eagles Sevens Schedule | Pool D | Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens

LIVE on ESPN Networks

vs. France | 24-24 (D)

vs. Wales | 47-5 (W)

vs. Argentina | 31-17 (W)

Cup Quarter Finals
vs. New Zealand | 7-35 (L)