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Starting the bottom of the 12-man roster, with Brett Thompson, Malon Al-Jiboori, Nick Boyer, Cody Melphy and Chris Mattina all on the field at once, the Eagles fell 29-7 to South Africa in the bronze medal match Sunday at Canada Sevens at BC Place in Vancouver, missing out on hardware. They remain in sixth place in the World Series standings, but they’ve tightened the gap between them and the top four.  

The Eagles struck first and looked dangerous in doing so. Off a lineout, Mattina and Williams switched, with Williams breaking through, fixing the last defender and dishing the try to Al-Jiboori, who raced in untouched. Niua converted – 7-0.

The Eagles put together another threatening possession, but several phases in, an iffy pass from Niua to Mattina was turned over. South Africa responded with a string of phases before beating the Eagles around the perimeter for the leveling try.

South Africa tacked on another minutes later, when Stedman Gans ran a tight line off Branco du Preez, turning Niua into a windmill while running under the posts. Both tries were converted, making it 14-7.

With time enough for just a restart before halftime, the Blitzboks weren’t done. They sniped the kickoff and raced into the attacking 22. The Americans scrambled well, but a couple of reversals of field later, Siviwe Soyizwapi ran in on the corner. The conversion attempt failed, putting the Boks 19 points clear of the USA at halftime.

The Boks struck immediately after intermission. Kyle Brown took the ball off the restart, and he gashed the Americans up one touch line. They spun the ball to the opposite wing, where Ryan Oosthuizen was waiting to finish. Oosthuizen dotted down the final try, too, but the show was put on by Selvyn Davis, who scorched the middle of the pitch to put the Boks on the front foot.