CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Carlin Isles and Perry Baker reached milestones, but it ended up being a frustrating Saturday for the United States after pool play at the Los Angeles leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series.
The U.S. defeated Samoa and Scotland, but lost 17-7 to Australia in the final match of the day, which decided first place in Pool C.
“I’m disappointed. Santa Claus gives away less presents than us,” U.S. coach Mike Friday said. “Lessons learned I hope. We showed glimpses of what we are capable of doing, but too many errors and easy possessions given away,”
Australia scored the first 17 points and dominated possession for most of the match. It was a much different result than four weeks ago in Sydney, when the Americans had a 42-7 victory in pool play.
Australia joined Olympic champion Fiji (Pool A) and series leader New Zealand (Pool D) as the other unbeaten teams after the first day.
“When we played them in Sydney, we got dominated in the restart. We spent a lot of time over the last few weeks tidying that area up,” Australia captain Nick Malouf said.
Isles and Baker became the first Americans to achieve 200 tries in sevens competition. Isles reached it in the Eagles’ opening match as they rallied for a 19-17 victory over Samoa. Isles’ try late in the second half tied the match at 17, and Madison Hughes’ conversion was the difference.
“It feels good to get it first. As long as we got there, that was important,” Isles said.
Baker had the final try in the American’s second match, a 33-12 win over Scotland. Isles and Baker are two of only eight players to reach 200 tries in the history of the series.
Friday said he was happy that both players were able to get the tries in front of family and friends.
The Americans will have a tough road if they want to win their third straight tournament on home soil. They face Pool B winner South Africa in the quarterfinals, with the winner facing either New Zealand or France. The Blitzboks had two wins and a draw in pool play.
The other quarterfinal matches are Fiji against England and Australia versus Ireland.
The Sevens Series is back in Los Angeles for the first time since 2006. The fields have received positives reviews from players and coaches after the first day.
“It is a nice temperature and a fast field. The fans are also close to you, which makes for an exciting atmosphere,” New Zealand’s Tim Mikkelson said.
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