January 31, 2016
Eagles 7s Exit Wellington After Plate Semi-Finals
Cup Quarter-Final Wellington Sevens
During the first half, the Eagles 7s continually frustrated Fiji as they were unable to produce any of the attacking flair for which they are known. The Eagles 7s were playing their best rugby of the tournament in Wellington.They simply did not allow Fiji to offload the ball.
The Eagles defense opened the doors for them to take a lead five minutes into the match. After a scrum was won by the Eagles, a pass to Carlin Isles was all it took for him to have a try in the corner. The Eagles 7s lead 5-0.
It appeared that the Eagles might increase their lead prior to halftime as Kevin Swiryn broke deep into Fiji’s territory. The ball went to Madison Hughes and then to Carlin Isles who was met by a defender. At the breakdown, Isake Katonibau appeared to kick the ball out of contact. He then recovered the ball and was off to the races. The try was converted and instead of the USA adding potential points, the Eagles now were behind at halftime 5-7.
The second half began with Matai Leuta winning the restart. At the breakdown however, the ball was poached by Fiji. This is an area where they excelled. In a scrum to Fiji shortly later, Jerry Tuwai split two USA defenders for a try. The Eagles were now down 5-14 to the number one ranked team in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
With two minutes remaining, a Perry Baker attack had him contained near touch. Fiji was able to win a turnover and resulted in a Osea Kolinisau to feed Semi Kunatani for a try. (5-21) Vatemo Ravouvou converted for the third time.
The Eagles 7s players competed until the end through multiple phases as Baker advanced the ball to Fiji’s 22, Leuta and then Test advanced to within 5 meters. The balll went to Baker who offloaded to Will Holder for a final try. This was converted by Nate Augspurger. The Final was Eagles 12-21 Fiji.
In the Plate Semi-Final the Eagles 7s faced Australia.
It appeared that the Eagles 7s would strike first as Kevin Swiryn appeared to beat two defenders near the touch line. He went down injured and play was stopped shortly after. Thretton Palamo replaced him.
Penalties against the U.S. on defense led to Australia an Allan Fa’alava’au try and an early 5-0 lead. The Eagles answered back as Zack Test took the restart and offloaded to Madison Hughes for a long try in the corner to tie the match. Folau Niua’s conversion went wide.
Australia was able to attack with a minute remaining before halftime. They advanced the ball inside the 22 and a penalty against the U.S. at the breakdown resulted in an Australia quick tap with quick hands allowing Sam Myers to score. At halftime the Eagles were down 5-12.
Ben Pinkelman, who was playing in his first World Rugby Sevens Series, showed he belonged with both his tenacious defense and in offense as he attacked to midfield. A penalty however, thwarted this effort.
The Eagles 7s were not able to score during the second half. Australia’s Henry Hutchison was the only person to add a try. The Final ended with the Eagles losing to Australia 17-5.
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Standings
With the conclusion of the Wellington Sevens that was won by New Zealand over South Africa, the Eagles 7s slip to sixth place in the standings. New Zealand, England and Argentina were able to advance ahead of them.
Sydney Sevens Pools
The draw was also completed for the Sydney Sevens. The USA will be in Pool D along with England, Japan and Wales. Securing a Cup Quarter-final appearance will go through Pool A comprised of New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Portugal.
Pool B includes South Africa, Kenya, Scotland and Russia. Pool C has Fiji, Argentina, Samoa and France.
Final Thoughts on Wellington Sevens
The Eagles Sevens continue to thrill the crowd with their electric runs and their punishing defense. They can not afford to be flat in matches like occurred against England. Teams on this circuit are too talented and will take advantage.
The team excelled last year in breakdowns and must improve in this area this season. It is still early in the season, so exact improvements as the team continues to jell.
The Eagles 7s are a team where everyone has made sacrifices for the team to excel. It is always devastating to see a players felled by injury. Kevin Swiryn has been a difference maker since he rejoined the Eagles 7s after a long absence. Our thoughts are with him and we wish him a speedy recovery.
At the Sydney Sevens, it now appears that Brett Thompson will replace Kevin Swiryn on the roster.
The Eagles 7s will be adding a player as Brett Thompson is also out with an injury. Martin Isoefo will be joining the team in Sydney.
Day One – Pool Play Recap
Men’s Eagles Sevens | HSBC Wellington Sevens
1. Carlin Isles
2. Matai Leuta
3. Danny Barrett
4. Ben Pinkelman
5. Zack Test
6. Kevin Swiryn
7. Folau Niua
8. Thretton Palamo
9. Nate Augspurger
10. Madison Hughes
11. Perry Baker
12. Will Holder