The USA finished Day One of the Nelson Mandela Bay 7s in Port Elizabeth 0-3 after a fairly consistently shoddy series of performances.
They capped the day off with a 33-17 loss to Portugal punctuated by missed tackles, soft tries, and a maddening inability to secure kickoffs.
The Eagles got the ball early but turned it over and a missed tackle put Portugal through. Carlin Isles made the cover tackle and tried to rip the ball out as he did so. In the end he was penalized rightly for not releasing the tackled player, and was yellow carded. Seconds later Miguel Lucas punched through for a try, carrying Pono Haitsuka on his back as if the USA speedster wasn't there.
Right off the restart, the shorthanded USA team could not catch the kick, and again gave up a big break, and this time David Mateus sauntered in for a try.
Isles returned to the field, but the Americans again fumbled the kickoff sent to them, and after Pedro Bettencourt ran through a Zack Test tackle attempt, offloaded over Isles's head to Mateus for another try. Halftime, and 21-0.
Conscious that they were not securing the ball even a little bit on kickoffs, Test determined to do so at the beginning of the second half. He went high, slapped the ball back ... and no one was there as the ball rolled all the way to the tryline and Carl Murray of Portugal chased it down and scored what has to be the softest of soft tries.
Finally gtetting the ball in their hands, the USA started to score. From a scrum Isles for a pass and jinked and raced his way for 80 meters, making it 28-5.
Then, after a stop-start series of runs and penalties, Folau Niua took a quick tap and went over himself. 28-10. Moments later, Andrew Durutalo did some good work to steal the ball, and then Niua dummied his way through for another try. 28-17.
But with the Eagles looking to score two more times, there was enough time. Niua tried to send a grubber through, but the kick was blocked and Murray went the distance.
During the previous week, USA Head Coach Matt Hawkins had said securing restarts kicked to them was one of the USA's big needs ... he was right, and it wasn't fixed, as the Eagles hardly had the ball until the game was out of reach, and didn't defend nearly well enough to compensate.
Tries: Niua 2, Isles
Starting lineup: Isles, Edwards, Durutalo, Test, Thompson, Niua, Haitsuka
Subs: Tomasin, Craigwell
Tries: Mateus 2, Murray 2, Lucas
Convs: Leal 4