March 12, 2017
Eagles Thrill Crowd in Narrow Loss to Fiji for Bronze Medal at Canada Sevens
Photo: All World Photo
The USA Men’s Eagles lost to South Africa in the Cup Semi-finals of the Canada Sevens in referee’s time, as their attack ended in-goal with Werner Kok holding up a potential Andrew Durutalo try. Durutalo made many crucial plays in the match, including a try to give the USA the lead in the second half.
England dominated Fiji in the other Cup Semi-final and this set up the Eagles playing Fiji for the Bronze medal.
In the Cup quarterfinals, the Eagles beat Argentina 14-12 although unfortunately Danny Barrett was suspended for three matches beginning with the semi-final for an accidental boot coming in contact with a defender. On day one, they won their pool with wins over Japan, France and Australia.
At the end of the Canada Sevens, the USA will be in fifth place in the standings alone and will have inched their way up the standings ladder toward fourth place New Zealand.
USA v Fiji
The USA went toe to toe against Fiji in the bronze medal match at the Canada Sevens, but Fiji left with a 28-24 win. The USA appeared in their second consecutive Bronze match and are a contender in any Series.
Fiji claimed the opening restart and Waisea Nacuqua added a try off a chip and chase. After the conversion Fiji held a 7-0 lead.
The Eagles answered right back as Martin Iosefo gathered the restart and quick hands had Perry Baker speeding around the wing for a try. This narrowed the score to 7-5.
Fiji increased their lead after Osea Kolinisau executed a switch with Samisoni Viriviri shooting a gap for a try for a 14-5 lead.
In this seesaw match, Ben Pinkelman gathered the restart and Fiji was penalized. Folau Niua kicked to touch for a lineout. Pinkelman tapped to Niua and the ball was spun wide. Iosefo drew in a defender and Baker went in for his second try, his 100th try in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Hughes converted and at the break Fiji held a narrow 14-12 lead.
Early in the second half, a Nacuqu offload to Ravouvou had him going in for a try, in which he also converted for a 21-12 lead.
Baker claimed the restart and executed several spin moves before offloading to Niua to to Maka Unufe for a try. With Hughes’ conversion the score was 21-19.
Pinkelman challenged the restart and the USA was successful in regaining possession from a counter ruck. This attack was quickly lost forward and Viriviri offloaded to Setareki Bituniyata for a try in the corner. Ravouvou then added a conversion from touch, meaning that the USa would need to score twice with a minute remaining.
The restart went to Matai Leuta and Niua found Unufe for a try. The Eagles declined the conversion and had one last opportunity on the restart. Perry Baker went high and came down with the ball, but was quickly isolated and Fiji turned over the ball at the breakdown and kicked into touch for the 28-24 win.
Men’s Eagles Sevens: 1. Pat Blair 2. Ben Pinkelman 3. Danny Barrett 4. Matai Leuta 5. Walt Elder 6. Andrew Durutalo 7. Folau Niua 8. Maka Unufe 9. Stephen Tomasin 10. Madison Hughes (C) 11. Perry Baker 12. Martin Iosefo
Men’s Eagles Sevens – HSBC Canada Sevens
- v. Japan – W52-0
- v. France –W31-19
- v. Australia – W29-5
- v. Argentina – Cup QF- W14-12
- v South Africa – Cup SF – L14-10
- v Fiji – Bronze Final L28-24