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The USA Men's 7s team did get the most important victory of Day Two at the Nelson Mandela Bay 7s in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, beating Spain in the Bowl Quarterfinals to ensure they secured at least five points from a difficult tournament.
This they did by doing a better job of holding onto the ball and a better job getting into defensive positions.
Stephen Tomasin got the USA on top midway through the first half with a try, cutting through the Spanish defense and not looking back.
Spain equalized late in the first half when longtime star Ignacio Martin executed a beautiful, if dicey, kick and chase.
The key play, then, was Isles getting the ball in some space and speeding away with time up on the first half. That try, with Folau Niua's conversion, gave the Americans a boost and a 14-7 lead.
No one could get anything going in the second half. It wasn't until time was essentially up that anyone scored, with the ever-present Martin tying the game with Isles in the sin bin.
The hooter went, but referee Matt O'Brien ordered one more kick, and the USA secured this, and patiently worked their way up the field. Then once again Thomasin found a little space and burst onto the ball to go into the corner to win the game.
Tries: Thomasin 2, Isles
Convs: Niua 2
Isles, Durutalo, Punimata, Test, Thompson, Niua, Thomasin
Subs used: Edwards, Craigwell
Then on to the Bowl semifinals, where small mistakes hurt the USA against England. The English scored an early try, with Tom Mitchell exposing Isles for his lack of size. The USA wing had Mitchell, but Mitchell pushed him away and score din the corner.
The Eagles then missed touch on a kick from a penalty, and England punished them, cutting through the middle and showing some slick ball-handling so that Dan Bibby could score.
Isles then scored a brilliant try, getting the ball with no space, and toasting two English players before galloping 80 meters. That made it 12-7, but Jeff Williams punished Isles by steamrolling the light American and finishing the half 19-7.
Still, this was an improved the performance by the Eagles. They were a little more buttoned up on defense. Still, a quick pick-and-go on a ruck put Mat Turner in at the corner. Nu'u Punimata learned a harsh lesson about needless counter-rucking and would have been better served on the blind side.
The Eagles got one back after they won the restart, Folau Niua danced around and then passed to Isles right on the USA 22 meter line. Isles just took off, made a few moves to beat some tacklers, and was gone, showing that he has more than one big run in him.
But that was it. Turner scored another, and the USA's tournament was done. Overall, not pretty - 1-9. But they did stop their losing streak, and perhaps, just perhaps, they learned something.
Tries: Isles 2
Isles, Durutalo, Punimata, Test, Thompson, Niua, Tomasin
Subs used: Blair, Craigwell, Edwards
Tries: Turner 2, Bibby, Mitchell, Williams
Convs: Bibby 2, Mitchell 2
Notes: Captain Nick Edwards was starting through pool play but did not start the two knockout round games. Zack Test led the team out onto the field, and Edwards was a late second-half sub in both matches.