PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa – The Men’s Eagles Sevens had their best offensive effort of the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens Saturday but could not match it defensively in a 33-17 loss to Portugal in the final match of pool play.
Carlin Isles, making his fourth consecutive start going back to last weekend’s Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens Shield Semifinal against France, save an early try by chasing down Portugal’s David Mateus in the second minute. Isles was shown a yellow card for holding up play, however, causing the Eagles to play with six men.
Portugal capitalized immediately, almost before Isles could get off of the field. Miguel Lucas received a pass and walked straight into the try zone to open the scoring.
Following the restart, Mateus copied his earlier run and did not have Isles to keep him from scoring. Pedro Leal made his second conversion for a 14-0 Portugal lead after just three minutes.
Isles reentered the match and almost saved another try by tracking down Pedro Battencourt, but Mateus finished off the play for his second try of the match and a 21-0 Portugal lead.
Zack Test nor Isles could corral a grubber kick in the try zone, with Isles celebrating a try before the referee called it back for a knock against Test. Portugal held on to the 21-0 lead at halftime.
The second-half kickoff was knocked backwards by Test, though it went a bit too far backwards: into the try zone. Carl Murray dove on the ball before Isles could grab it for a quick Portugal try.
In the ninth minute, Isles showed off his patented speed once again after fending off two Portuguese defenders to race into the try zone for the Eagles’ first try. Folau Niua followed it up with two tries of his own to bring the Eagles within 11 at 28-17.
Time was running out, however, and a late Portugal try from Murray hammered the nail into the coffin. The 33-17 defeat means the Eagles conclude pool play with an 0-3 record, sending them into the Bowl Quarterfinals for the third successive tournament.
The Eagles will be in action Sunday, Dec. 8, at 5:17 A.M. ET in the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens Bowl Quarterfinals against the third-place team in Pool B. Follow @USARugby on Twitter for more updates and watch Day Two from Port Elizabeth Bay Stadium on the USA Sevens website.
Men's Eagles Sevens | v Portugal
1. Carlin Isles
2. Nick Edwards
3. Andrew Durutalo
4. Nu'u Punimata
5. Zack Test
6. Brett Thompson
7. Folau Niua
8. Pat Blair
9. Ryne Haitsuka
10. Zach Mizell
11. Stephen Tomasin
12. Miles Craigwell
Men's Eagles Sevens | 17
Tries: Isles, Niua (2)