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Maka Unufe fending a French defender. Ian Muir photo

The United States opened its London 7s campaign with a 24-19 defeat of France. The Eagles got up 19-0, but allowed the French to creep back in the game, and the result was insecure until the final seconds.

France and the USA traded turnovers to open the contest, but it was the USA who would strike first through Carlin Isles. Danny Barrett made a break up one touch line, tip-toeing to stay in play. He was brought down, and the Eagles spun the ball to the other wing, where Isles simply out an the defense. The conversion was missed.

Maka Unufe added to the lead on the USA’s next possession. The Americans threw in a lineout, Unufe dummied one defender and slipped the arms of another for a try in the middle of the field. Madison Hughes slotted the conversion.

The captain added a third try seconds later. Garrett Bender took the kickoff cleanly, and he offloaded to a streaking Hughes five meters from pay dirt. The conversion was missed, leaving the Eagles up 17-0, which is how they’d go into the half.

France finally got on the board a minute into the second half. Julien Candelon burrowed over the line from short distance following a couple of consecutive penalties on the USA. The conversion was true, pulling France within 10 at 17-7.

Stephen Parez scored next, making the game even closer. The play was awkward, as Jonathan Laugel was tackled short of the line, the Eagles blew France off the ruck, and Laugel got to his feet and picked up the ball to score. Converted, it reduced the lead to three at 17-14.

Hughes added his second try to regain some cushion for the Eagles. Andrew Durutalo made a rumble up the touchline and offloaded to Hughes for the score. Candelon rebutted with his second, pulling France within a try with time enough for a kickoff, juking Unufe in the process.

France kicked off and Barrett knocked on, giving France an attacking set piece just outside the 22, but the Eagle scrum of Bender, Barrett and Durutalo took the ball against the head and Folau Niua cleared it to touch to end the game.