By Doug Coil (djcoilrugby.com)
The USA Men’s Eagles earned their fifth consecutive Cup Quarterfinals appearance at the HSBC Singapore Sevens on Saturday. They entered the Series in fifth place in the standings.
After the Pool phase of play ended on Saturday, the Eagles Sevens finished 2-1 to finish second in Pool D to New Zealand after a 21-14 loss. This will set up a Cup Quarterfinal match against Fiji.
Folau Niua kicked to begin the match as Joe Revouvou won the challenge against Perry Baker for the ball. While Revouvou advanced the ball, Baker was shaken up on the play. Danny Barrett won a lineout, the ball went wide to Baker who was defended well by New Zealand, before he lost the ball forward. After the ensuing scrum to New Zealand, a Regan Ware offload to Sam Dickson resulted in his 50th try. Vilimoni Koroi converted for a 7-0 lead. Perry Baker left the pitch and Maka Unufe replaced him.
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New Zealand claimed the restart and Barrett dragged out Koroi before he crossed the try line. New Zealand stole the USA 5 meter lineout, but Unufe caused a turnover at the breakdown when Rovouvou was cited for not releasing. Soon after New Zealand went back on the attack with Martin Iosefo tackling Joe Rouvouvou at the try line. A TMO ruled that Rovouvou’s foot went into touch prior to him grounding the ball and a try was disallowed.
The lineout at the USA 5 meters was batted back by Koroi and spun wide to Rovouvou who offloaded to Regan Ware for a try in the corner. Koroi converted again for a 14-0 New Zealand lead at the break.
Koroi kicked the second half restart deep in-goal leading to an Eagles Sevens free kick at midfield. After some quick back and forth of possession, Martin Iosefo drew a penalty for New Zealand not releasing at the breakdown. Folau Niua took a quick tap and hit Barrett, who sliced in for a try. Madison Hughes added a conversion and the Eagles narrowed the score to 14-7 with four minutes remaining.
The complexion of the match quickly changed as Regan Ware evaded the outstretched arms of Mikey Te’o for a try. Beaudein Waaka converted and the lead was 21-7.
The Eagles Sevens went on a last attack as Martin Iosefo weaved his way around defenders before Andrew Durutalo could not handle a pass. Soon after, the Eagles regained possession and Durutalo drew a penalty after not being released at the breakdown. This led to a Folau Niua offload to Te’o for a try. Niua converted to end the match at 21-14.
With the win, New Zealand won Pool D and will face Canada in the Cup Quarterfinals on Sunday. The USA finished second in the Pool and will face Fiji in the Cup Quarterfinals at 12:30 a.m. et/9:30 p.m. pt.