A torrid second half could not redeem a woeful first half for the USA men's 7s team as they lost 21-19 to France in Pool Play at the Hong Kong 7s Saturday morning local time.
The Eagles were not at their best in the first half and leaked a soft early try to Renaud Delmas. With the ball the Eagles had the ball and spun it wide, but Zack Test took too long to pass to Carlin Isles, and Delmas easily stepped in to take the ball and score.
Jean Baptiste Gobelet added a try, soaring in under the posts. And then with time up in the first half France could have kicked the ball to touch on a penalty, but decided to tap it and run, and after showing some patience, Steeve Barry went in well after the hooter. Paul Albaladejo was a perfect 3-3 on conversions, and that proved the difference. France could have been up 28-0 but for a silly unforced knock-on in-goal.
The Eagles rebounded in the second half, although they kept committing penalties in the rucks. Better offloading out of the tackle led to Jack Halalilo scoring. After Coach Alex Magleby ran in the subs, one of them, Mike Palefau, ran in the USA's second after a long series. Palefau started the movement, stayed in support and got the return pass to score. With time essentially up Folau Niua scored. But it was all for naught as the first try of the half was not converted. The restart from the USA did not go ten meters, but France opted not to play the ball, and it rolled over the line. Zack Test nabbed the ball and the Eagles spun it wide, but the last pass to the wing went a mile and-a-half forward, ending the game.
In their last 22 games on the HSBC Sevens World Series, the USA has now lost 12 games by a try or less.
But the USA is still infuriating in the way they play. These seemed so cautious in the first half, and were able in the second half to let loose and really play. Still the USA players seem reluctant to look on the game simply, and realize that sometimes a quick pass to your fastest player is a good thing. Too much ball-coddling and too many penalties in the rucks hurt them mightily.
Tries: Halalilo, Palefau, Niua
Convs: Niua 2
USA Starters: Halalilo, Test, Hawkins, Suniula, Hawley, Edwards, Isles
Tries: Delmas, Barry, Gobelet
Convs: Albaladejo 3