LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The USA Eagles certainly gave the thousands of fans at Sam Boyd Stadium moments of excitement and agony on day one of the USA Sevens Tournament as they almost scored near the death to defeat Samoa, but ultimately fell 7-12 to the Pacific islanders, just short of an upset.
Earlier on in the day, the Eagles lost 26-7 against Australia, with a lack of possession and unforced errors being key in the match.
Eagles Head Coach Alex Magleby made one change to the starting lineup against Samoa, putting Carlin Isles on the wing. Additionally Colin Hawley was used at flyhalf instead of his usual role in the forwards.
The Eagles brought the stadium to life during the opening minutes with a fantastic passage of play, setting up four phases of attack. Captain Matt Hawkins was prominent linking up with Colin Hawley for a linebreak, but the USA just missed out on a scoring chance. Hawley made the break down the touchline, patiently feeding the ball to Blaine Scully who nearly executed the kick and chase for the speedster Isles.
Samoa responded by working the ball from side to side, eventually sending Levi Asifa’amatala over in the corner for the first try of the match.
Folau Niua sparked the Eagles with a superb grubber kick for Zack Test, who used his speed on the outside to collect and score for the USA. Niua added the extras and the Eagles led 7-5 at halftime.
The second half saw Samoa strike first with Reupena Levasa burning on the outside of the Eagles defense, putting his team back into the lead, 12-7. Lolo Lui kicked the conversion.
Substitutes Nick Edwards, Shalom Suniula, Rocco Mauer, and Luke Hume entered the match with under four minutes remaining.
The Eagles defended well in the final minutes, and after creating a turnover, brought the crowd to their feet as they attacked upfield. Unfortunately Mauer’s grubber kick rolled out of bounds, and Samoa held on to a 12-7 victory.
In the Eagles’ pool, Spain caused a massive upset on day one by beating Australia 24-14. They also held Samoa at bay for most of the match, just losing out 19-12. The HSBC Sevens World Series is now seeing more and more teams able to beat any side on a given day.
“There is a lot of parity in the teams. We have to reduce our errors, and continue to improve. We look forward to the Spain challenge tomorrow ,” Magleby said after the match.
The Eagles will face Spain next at 2:34 p.t. PST on Saturday, February 9. NBC Sports and Universal Sports will be broadcasting the tournament. Check here for times.
USA Men’s Eagles Sevens | Las Vegas Sevens
- Andrew Durutalo
- Nick Edwards
- Jack Halalilo
- Matt Hawkins (Captain)
- Colin Hawley
- Luke Hume
- Carlin Isles
- Rocco Mauer
- Folau Niua
- Blaine Scully
- Shalom Suniula
- Zach Test
Eagles Schedule | Las Vegas Sevens
vs. Spain – 2:34 P.M. PT Saturday, February 9
Eagles Results | Las Vegas Sevens
USA 7 Australia 26
USA 7 Samoa 12