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Team USA opened its account at Hong Kong 7s with a 24-24 draw with France. If you’d asked USA fans before the tournament if they’d be happy with a draw, they’d have emphatically said no. If you’d asked them that 12 minutes into the game, they’d have jumped on it.
An abysmal first half for the Eagles put them in a 12-0 hole after seven minutes. France started the second half well, too, eventually leading 24-5. But three American tries in the last three minutes saw an improbable comeback.
The Eagles got on the board right on halftime when Martin Iosefo hesitated at flyhalf deep in his own end, freezing the defense. Folau Niua screamed in at full pace off Iosefo’s outside shoulder, catching an offload and sprinting into space. He turned the French defender around long enough to reach pay dirt. His conversion attempt failed, leaving it 12-7 going into break.
The Eagles knocked on the opening kickoff of the second half, giving possession to France straight away. Veredamu got the ball on the wing and violently stepped between Unufe and Danny Barrett, outpacing Barrett for the score. With the conversion, France led 19-5.
Paul Bonnefond scored the death knell after the Eagles were turned over. Veredamu set it up, passing out of a tackle to put Bonnefond through.
Perry Baker scored with just under two minutes left, running in untouched after Tomasin committed the last defender and put him away. Terry Bouhraoua nearly sniped him from behind, but it wasn’t to be The conversion was hit immediately – 24-12.
The Eagles won the restart back immediately, with Leuta slapping the ball off the deck into the hands of Iosefo. He jinked inside his man and passed to Isles, who sprinted through the broken field to center a try. He conversion was good, pulling the USA to within five with one more kickoff to come.
France won the restart, but Danny Barrett ploughed through the first French ruck, earning a penalty and turning the ball over in the attacking end. France committed a cynical penalty, intentionally knocking on a pass during the penalty play. The offender was sent off, giving the Eagles an attacking penalty with a man advantage and no time left on the clock.
The Eagles executed the set play well, floating a cutout pass to Isles in space, and he jetted around the corner and upfield. France put in a quality chase, forcing Isles to dive in at the corner. The grounding was good, tying the ball game. Stephen Tomasin was rushed in taking the touchline conversion, and he missed.
The second pool match against Wales kicks off at 11:38 p.m. ET Friday.