USA Men’s Eagles Sevens Advance to Cup Quarterfinals at Hong Kong Sevens

April 8, 2017

USA Men’s Eagles Sevens Advance to Cup Quarterfinals at Hong Kong Sevens


Doug Coil

The USA Men’s Eagle Sevens team entered the seventh leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in fifth place in the standings. After two consecutive Bronze medal finals at the USA Sevens and the Canada Sevens, the Eagles Sevens will continue to seek to solidify their fifth place in the standings, as they advance to the Cup Quarterfinals. Read the DJCoil rugby Pool D preview.

Mike Friday made two changes for 13-man travel squad for the seventh and eighth legs of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, the Hong Kong and Singapore Sevens, respectively.  Mike Te’o and Anthony Welmers replaced Pat Blair and Walt Elder for these legs.

The USA was in Pool D in the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, where they faced Russia, Scotland and Argentina with all matches available to viewers in the United States via World Rugby’s Sevens Series live stream.
The USA won their pool going undefeated with defeating Russia 14-7, Scotland 19-14 and Argentina 33-5. They will face England in the Cup Quarterfinals on Saturday at 11:42 p.m. ET.

Pool D: USA v Russia

The Men’s Eagles Sevens were short handed for the first pool match, as Danny Barrett was serving a suspension from the Canada Sevens. His availability for the second match against Scotland will be welcomed.

There are no excuses for the Eagles Evens when then enter matches, as Mike Friday has instilled a will to compete for titles. With this in mind, Folau Niua and Perry Baker added first half tries for a 14-0 lead. During the second half, Russia had the majority of possession with German Davydov scoring in the 12th minute to narrow the final result to 14-7 in favor of the USA.

The USA attacked early as Madison Hughes had the Eagles sprinting into Russian territory. The ball quickly went wide to Perry Baker, but he turned the ball over into touch.

Ben Pinkelman won a penalty for the Eagles at the breakdown, however soon the ball was turned over and Russia’s Vladimir Ostroushko attacked deep into USA territory. Andrew Durutalo did his part in creating a turnover at the breakdown to thwart the attack. The Eagles Evens then went through several phases before a Folau Niua dummy led to the first try. After Hughes converted, the score was 7-0.

Ben Pinkelman tapped the ball down off the restart and soon after the team was penalized. Vitaly Zhivatov found a gap and was tackled by Stephen Tomasin, creating a turnover. The Eagles quickly swung the ball to Baker, who went almost the length of the pitch for another highlight try and a 14-0 lead at the break.

During the second half, Russia had most of the possession. Ostroushko proved to be an attacking force throughout the match and Perry Baker had to chance him down in the 8th minute to save a potential try. Folau Niua then had to make another tackle on him shortly after. Several penalties later, German Davydov took a tap from five meters to narrow the score to 14-7.

The later score only left over a minute in the match and did not find Russia being able to penetrate the staunch USA defense to level the match. Russia played an excellent match and the USA will take the 14-7 win and prepare to face Scotland next.

In the other pool match, Argentina beat Scotland 22-14 and will face Russia next. Should the USA and Argentina win their next match, they would both move to the Cup Quarterfinals, setting up their final pool match for seeding purposes.

Scotland on paper appears to have a combination of established sevens players and newer players. That is misleading, as a number of the new additions are established professionals.

USA v Scotland

The USA Men’s Eagles Sevens booked a place in the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Cup Quarterfinals with a 19-14 win over Scotland.

Perry Baker hat trick during the first half was the difference even though Scotland made it interesting scoring their points in the second half. Both the USA and Argentina are 2-0 in Pool D after Argentina beat Russia 17-12.

The Eagles Sevens defense continued to shine as Danny Barrett and Ben Pinkelman created a turnover that led to a Stephen Tomasin skip pass to Perry Baker, who out ran the defense for a try. After Madison Hughes slotted the conversion the score was 7-0.

Baker then added a second try at the 5th minute, picking up a loose ball for try. Hughes converted again to increase the lead to 14-0.

Danny Barrett won the ensuing restart and Scotland was penalized. Ben Pinkelman took a quick tap and offloaded to Barrett who then fended a defender and offloaded to Baker for his third try. That gave the Eagles a 19-0 lead at the break.

During the second half, Scotland was able to capitalize on USA mistakes. A Niua missed tackle led to a Hugh Blake try and a Scott Wight conversion. A Maka Unufe knock on in the 10th minute provided the impetus Scotland as Joe Nayacavou took the ball from the tap at the 22 to the try line to narrow the lead to 19-14.

Stephen Tomasin then made a try saving tackle, but the Eagles were penalized for Andrew Durutalo being offside 10 meters from the try line. Scotland could not take advantage as they lost the ball forward. The USA defense held and the match ended with a USA 19-14 win.

USA v Argentina

The last two times that the USA Men’s Eagles Sevens faced Argentina was in the Cup Quarterfinals at the USA Sevens and then at the Canada Sevens. Both were exciting matches with the USA using a second half surge for a comeback win in Las Vegas. The match in Vancouver also was a high intensity match with the USA prevailing.

Both teams entered the final Pool D match knowing that they would play in the Cup Quarterfinals. The Eagles Sevens heeded Mike Friday’s advice to keep the pedal down and emerged with a 33-5 win to top their Pool. In the other pool match, Russia earned their first victory over Scotland 14-5.

The U.S. finished on top of their pool for the second consecutive round of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, and will face England, who are second in the standings, in Sunday’s Cup Quarterfinals at Hong Kong Stadium. The knockout match will kick off at 11:42 p.m. ET Saturday night, with the live stream available to viewers in the United States on World Rugby’s website.

Argentina took the early lead after penalties by Andrew Durutalo and Perry Baker had Argentina within the USA 22 meters. Jose Barros Sosa then picked the ball from the breakdown and went in for an early try.

In the 4th minute, Mikey Te’o claimed the restart and Andrew Durtutalo and Martin Iosefo each had long runs moving the ball to the Argentina 10. A knock on relinquished the ball and Stephen Tomasin saved a try taking a defender into touch.

The Eagles Sevens were able to attack from the ensuing lineout and Te’o found a gap for a try. Te’o then helped to win the restart and after a high tackle on Danny Barrett, a Folau Niua dummy added a try under the posts for a 12-5 lead at the break.

A knock on by Maka Unufe deep into USA territory off the restart provided an opportunity for Argentina. The ball went wide to Franco Sabato, who dropped the pass. Perry Baker then retrieved the ball and went almost he length of the pitch to increase the lead to 19-5.

In the 11th minute, Matai Leuta added a try after Te’o turned over the ball from a breakdown. Madison Hughes added a difficult conversion for a 26-5 lead. The USA attacked from the restart and Ben Pinkelman was held up in-goal. From the ensuing scrum, Mikey Te’o evaded a tackle and grounded the ball for his second try of the match.

With the 33-5 victory, the Eagles won their pool. This set up a Cup Quarterfinal match against England, who lost to Australia 12-10 in a Pool A battle of undefeated teams. This knockout round streamed live Saturday at 11:42 p.m. ET.


Men’s Eagles Sevens: Cathay Pacific/HBSC Hong Kong Sevens & HSBC Singapore Sevens USA squad: 1 Anthony Welmers 2 Ben Pinkelman 3 Danny Barrett 4 Matai Leuta 5 Mike Te’o 6 Andrew Durutalo 7 Folau Niua 8 Maka Unufe 9 Stephen Tomasin 10 Madison Hughes (captain)11 Perry Baker 12 Martin Iosefo 13 Malon Al-Jiboori

Russia 1 Vladimir Ostroushko 2 Stanislav Bondarev 3 Vladislav Sozonov 4 Vladislav Lazarenko 5 Alexey Kapalin 6 Vitaly Zhivatov 7 Eduard Filatov 8 Dmitry Sukhin 9 Yury Gotyuzhev 10 Ilya Babaev 11 Ivan Kotov 12 German Davydov 13 Timur Urazakov

Scotland 1. Grayson Hart 2. Dougie Fife 3. Ally Miller 4. Darcy Graham 5. Blair Graham 6. Mark Robertson 7. Jamie Farndale 8. Joseva Nayacavou 9. Hugh Blake 10. Scott Wight 11. James Fleming 12. Robert Beattie 13. Robbie Nairn

Argentina squad: 1 Renzo Barbier 2 Lucas Bellotto 3 Fernando Luna 4 Nicolás Menéndez 5 José Barros Sosa 6 Matías Osadczuk 7 Lautaro Bazán Vélez 8 Germán Schulz 9 Gastón Revol (captain) 10 Felipe del Mestre 11 Franco Sábato 12 Javier Rojas 13 Santiago Álvarez

Men’s Eagles Sevens – Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens

  • v. Russia – W14-7
  • v. Scotland -W19-14
  • v. Argentina – W33-5
  • v England – Cup QF April 8, 11:42 p.m. ET

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant