Men's Sevens
12 0
26 12
Men's Sevens  @ Cape Town Stadium
Cape Town Sevens
  Richard Kelly, New Zealand

Men's Sevens Drop 5th Place Playoff to Fiji

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - The Men's Eagles Sevens saw their run at the 2017 Cape Town Sevens tournament come to a close when a loss in the 5th Place Playoff put Fiji on top, 26-12. Turnovers proved detrimental for a United States squad who ended a competitive game with a 6th place finish in the second stop of the 2017-18 HSBC World Sevens Series

While the match didn't end in his favor, Head Coach Mike Friday recognizes the competitive display by both teams.

"It was a competitive game as ever against a dangerous Fiji team," said Friday. "We just tried to force the offloads too much and paid the price."

A messy first half began with several knock ons called against both teams; preventing the United States and Fiji from gaining enough ground to score. Fiji was the first to turn this around, however, when a lineout gave Josua Vakurunabili the ball to pass through the forward pack and break U.S. territory. Just then, Fiji's Amenoni Nasilasila saw space with an incoming tackle and tossed the ball to Jerry Tuwai who swooped in at the right angle, grabbing the ball and running in for the first score, 5-0. 

Over the next several minutes, the Eagles held strong defensively but found trouble hanging onto the ball on offense. Turnovers were rampant and a consistent increase in knock ons kept both teams from advancing the ball once again. With under two minutes to go, another scrum sent the ball back to Fiji who found their way to the 10-meter mark just before Tuwai sprinted to his second consecutive try, 12-0. 

The siren blew and the last play of the half saw a Kevon Williams-Ben Pinkelman relay get the ball to Martin Iosefo who made a strong run before he was knocked out of touch by defenders.  

In the second-half, Williams got the game started with a long pass that allowed Iosefo to gain favorable ground. Though Fiji would take over on a penalty against Stephen Tomasin, a knock on of their own would see the ensuing scrum end in Eagle favor; allowing Tomasin to drive over the line for the try, 12-5. 

A Fiji kick out of touch forces another restart where USA's Danny Barrett tried to run with the ball but turned it over for Vakurunabili to move Fiji up the board, 19-5. The Eagles give up another opportunity moments after, allowing Fiji's Tuwai to dash along the side and pass to Eroni Sau who danced past Hughes to a 26-5 lead. 

Still 21 points behind, the United States would not let their Cape Town run go this easily. On the ensuing possession, a pass between Tomasin and Barrett allowed enough space for Maka Unufe to snag the ball and drive it in for the final score, 26-12. 

Through the weekend, Head Coach Mike Friday has seen a tremendous improvement in his team, noting their ability to make dynamic adjustments and overcome their challenges from Dubai. 

"I am proud of the boys character and grit these last 2 weeks," said Friday. "Whilst we have not gotten what we wanted, we will return back to the USA and get ready for Sydney, knowing we have plenty to work on." 


1. Carlin Isles
2. Ben Pinkelman
3. Danny Barrett
4. Matai Leuta
5. Joe Schroeder
6. Malon Al Jiboori
7. Folau Niua
8. Maka Unufe
9. Stephen Tomasin
10. Madison Hughes (Captain)
11. Kevon Williams
12. Martin Iosefo
13. Naima Fuala'au 


Head Coach - Mike Friday
Assistant Coach - Chris Brown
Physio - Brian Green
Team Analyst - Paul Goulding
Team Manager - Scott Novack


Saturday, Dec. 9 | ESPN 3 | Pool B
vs. New Zealand - 0-22 (W)
vs. Australia - 14-31 (W) 
vs. Spain  - 5-26 (W)

Sunday, Dec. 10 | ESPN3
Cup Quarter Finals
vs. Argentina - 12-28 (L)

5th Place Semifinal
vs. France - 12-29 (W)

5th Place Playoff
vs. Fiji - 26-12 (L)

The final match sees the United States finish 6th overall in Cape Town after a promising 3-0 start helps them improve from their performance during last week's Dubai Sevens. In total, the Eagles finish the weekend at 4-2 with the updated HSBC Series Standings announced at the conclusion of the Cup Final between New Zealand and Argentina at 12:44 PM ET. 

Head Coach Mike Friday and his team will take the next several weeks to reflect and position themselves for another strong run at Sydney Sevens, the third stop of the HSBC Series, running from January 26-28.