Men's Sevens
12 12
28 14
Men's Sevens  @ Twickenham Stadium
London Sevens
  Richard Haughton

Slow start brings down Eagles in London opener

 Martin Seras Lima

LONDON - The Men's Eagles Sevens were outplayed by Wales in a 28-12 defeat in their first match of HSBC London Sevens pool play Saturday.

Head Coach Mike Friday's squad faces the prospect of not reaching its first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Cup round since the third round in New Zealand back in January with the loss. The Eagles will look to get back on track at Twickenham Stadium against Kenya at 9:04 a.m. ET, with the final round of the 2016-17 season streamed live via World Rugby's Sevens Series website.

The Eagles were beaten to the opening restart and gave away a quick lineout to Wales, from which Lloyd Evans beat Ben Pinkelman at the gain line at the U.S. 10. Ethan Davies was in support to finish the score as the Eagles were slow to react for a 7-0 hole within a minute. A penalty against Wales on the ensuing restart allowed the U.S. to carry the pace into the attacking half, and a skip pass from captain Madison Hughes found Pinkelman in space at the 10 for a stutter step and push off of the defender for the match-tying try.

Finding their stride with ball in hand, the Eagles used a fifth-minute penalty for a try-scoring tap. Andrew Durutalo broke one tackle 25 meters from the try line before fending another tackler and dotting down in contact for a 12-7 advantage. The forward was caught out of position trying to intercept a pass on the next possession, however, giving Owen Jenkins a lane for the go-ahead, 14-12, score to end the half.

Friday stressed the importance of bringing up the energy levels at halftime, and the Eagles seemed to respond with an early scoring opportunity. Stephen Tomasin secured possession from the restart and offloaded to Martin Iosefo. Iosefo cut inside the defenders and beat everyone to the try line, but was careless in dotting the ball down, instead losing it forward in a tackle in-goal.

Wales held onto the ball from the five-meter lineout through several tackles deep in its own end before Tom Glyn Williams capped off the patient spell with a 65-meter try down the touch line, 21-12. The Eagles could not get out of their own half in the final minutes of play as they faced the wrath of ill-discipline and handling errors, with Series-leading points-scorer Sam Cross crossing over late from a quick tap for the 28-12 final score.

The 16-point differential in the loss will hurt the U.S. just as much as the defeat in its hopes for Cup qualification at Twickenham Stadium, with Series Champion South Africa also claiming victory from its first-up matchup. A win will be a minimum requirement from the second game against Kenya, which is scheduled to kick off at 9:04 a.m. ET Saturday. London Sevens can be streamed live online via World Rugby's Sevens Series website.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. Wales

1. Alex Schwarz

2. Ben Pinkelman

3. Don Pati

4. Matai Leuta

5. Mike Te'o

6. Andrew Durutalo

7. Folau Niua

8. Maka Unufe

9. Stephen Tomasin

10. Madison Hughes (C)

11. Perry Baker

12. Martin Iosefo

13. Naima Fualaau

Wales | v. USA

1. Lloyd Lewis

2. Cory Allen

3. Joe Jenkins

4. Luke Morgan

5. Owen Jenkins

6. Billy McBryde

7. Ethan Davies

8. Lloyd Evans

9. Adam Thomas

10. Sam Cross

11. James Benjamin

12. Tom Glyn Williams

13. Ben Roach

Men's Eagles Sevens | 12

Tries: Pinkelman, Durutalo

Conversions: Hughes

Wales | 28

Tries: Davies, Jenkins, Glyn Williams, Cross

Conversions: Davies (4)

Men's Eagles Sevens | HSBC London Sevens

v. Wales - L 28-12

v. Kenya - Saturday, May 20 @ 9:04 a.m. ET

v. South Africa - Saturday, May 20 @ 12:32 p.m. ET