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Friday, December 4, 2015

Dubai 7s: Eagles Fall To France

If the U.S. wants to be considered an elite team this season wins over teams like France will have to be near automatic. Their 26-21 loss to France in their second pool play match shows that they still have work to go in that department. While competitive, they weren't able to keep enough possession as the French scored a late try to seal the win. The U.S. will now face pressure to get a result against New Zealand (10:58 a.m. et/7:58 a.m. pt) and hope that France slip up against Portugal in order to make the Cup quarterfinals.

All the possession was with France early and it led to try after try. The U.S. discipline also didn't help as they consistently gave the ball to France. Eventually France would find the gap as they put in a grubber kick that was recovered by Steeve Barry for the try. Just a few minutes later they would use possession to get their second via Terry Bouhraoua.

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The U.S. finally got their first real possession with a minute and a half to go in the half. They made it count with a try from Maka Unufe to end the half. They stayed patient and connected on their passes before Unufe showed a great power move to create separation. With the conversion the score was 14-7 at halftime.

Like they did in the first half France were first on the board. Excellent movement and possession sprung Damien Cler for the score. That's when the U.S. started to make moves. Gaining possession the U.S. went through phases once again. That eventually led to Zach Test making a fantastic offload to a supporting Brett Thompson for the try. The U.S. then collected the restart and quickly flung the ball to Test who put in a power move of his own to even up the match at 21-21 after a difficult conversion from Madison Hughes.

Still, the Eagles had trouble on the restart on all match and France were able to gain possession following Test's try. Using that possession they continually put pressure on the Eagles and found a breakthrough when Virimi Vakatawa scored in the corner. There was still time for a restart after the try but the U.S. weren't able to hold on allowing France to run out the clock.

If the Eagles had won it would have clinched a spot in the Cup quarterfinals. Now their chances of making the top round seem slim having to face New Zealand in the last match. That will be majorly disappointing for the team as they were targeting a top four finish.

Tries: Unufe, Thompson, Test
Conversions: Hughes (3)
Starters: Leuta, Bender, Test, Isles, Niua, Unufe, Hughes

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