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London – The USA men's 7s team ended their 2013-2014 campaign in disappointing form, but with a small piece of positive news as they won the Shield at the London 7s.
The USA is the IRB World Series all-time leader in winning the Shield, the 4th tier of trophies at any tournament, equal to 13th. However, while it's a lower-tier consolation trophy, the Shield does require a team to win two games in a row, which the Eagles did, breaking their ten-game losing streak in the process.
The USA opened Sunday with a distressing 26-7 loss to Spain, but bounced back to defeat Portugal 45-7 in the Shield semis - their biggest win in quite some time - and then beat Japan 36-12 in the Shield final. The Eagles finally found their offense, but perhaps a little late in the last group of tournaments.
Meanwhile, New Zealand came back from 21-0 down to beat Australia 52-33 and win the Marriott London Sevens, the ninth and final round of the HSBC Sevens World Series. It was also New Zealand's third-straight tournament victory.
Leading 21-0 after five minutes of the final, Australia's players looked set to give Michael O'Connor a fairy tale send-off in his last tournament as coach, but the indomitable kiwis hit back to level the scores at 21-21 by half time. The scores were then level at 28-28 before the New Zealanders pulled clear and eventually won 52-33, the highest scoring final in the history of IRB Sevens rugby.
In doing so the All Blacks Sevens rubber-stamped their 12th Series title in 15 years in glorious fashion, winning the last three rounds of the season to make it five in all and finish with a 28-point lead at the top of the standings.
Their final haul of 180 Series points is 28 more than second-placed South Africa (152). Fiji finish third (144) ahead of England (134). London runners-up Australia finish the season in fifth place (116) ahead of Canada, who finish a highest-ever sixth (90).
England took third over Fiji, South Africa took the Plate, and Canada beat Argentina 31-19 for the Bowl.
The dates have already been announced for the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series, from which the top four-ranked nations will qualify directly for the Olympic Games in 2016.
Round 1 Australia (Gold Coast) 11-12 Oct 2014
Round 2 Dubai 5-6 Dec 2014
Round 3 South Africa (Port Elizabeth) 13-14 Dec 2014
Round 4 New Zealand (Wellington) 6-7 Feb 2015
Round 5 USA (Las Vegas) 13-15 Feb 2015
Round 6 Hong Kong 27-29 Mar 2015
Round 7 Japan (Tokyo) 4-5 Apr 2015
Round 8 Scotland (Glasgow) 9-10 May 2015
Round 9 England (London) 16-17 May 2015
USA Sunday results in London:
USA 7 Spain 26
USA 45 Portugal 7
Tries: Palefau 2, Edwards 2, Barrett, Test, Holder
Convs: Hughes 4
USA 36 Japan 12
Tries: Palefau 2, Test 2, Punimata, Holder
Convs: Hughes 2