HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series

Eagles Sevens 4th at Hong Kong Sevens

April 9, 2017

Eagles Sevens 4th at Hong Kong Sevens

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Photo: Hong Kong Sevens

Doug Coil

The USA Men’s Eagle Sevens team finished fourth at the HSBC World Sevens Series – Hong Kong Sevens losing 26-19 to Australia. The Eagle Sevens team entered the seventh leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in fifth place in the standings and exited in the same position. After two consecutive Bronze medal finals at the USA Sevens and the Canada Sevens, the Eagles Sevens advanced to the Cup Quarterfinals after winning their pool. Read about their pool play matches and the  DJCoil Rugby Pool D preview.

The USA won Pool D at the Hong Kong Sevens going undefeated with defeating Russia 14-7, Scotland 19-14 and Argentina 33-5. They then faced England in the Cup Quarterfinals winning 27-7. They moved onto the Cup Semi-Finals against Series standings leader South Africa and had the opportunity to win if a conversion was made in regulation. The conversion was missed and South Africa scored in extra time for a 29-24 win.

In the Cup Final, Fiji beat South Africa 22-0. This was Fiji’s first win of the Series, while South Africa appeared in all seven Series Finals, winning four times.

The Series now moves to Singapore, where the USA will be in Pool D along with New Zealand, Scotland and Wales. The series will begin on Saturday, April 15.

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 Cup Quarterfinal: USA v England

The Men’s Eagles Sevens defeated England 27-7 in the Cup Quarterfinals and advanced to the Semi-finals against South Africa.

England struck first from the opening kick as Richard de Carpentier found a gap and then Tom Mitchell finished for a try and a conversion for a 7-0 lead in the first minute.

Martin Iosefo ran through two defenders following the restart, but was dragged into touch. England took the lineout and cleared for a U.S. lineout. Madison Hughes then took a loose pass outside the 22 and grubbed the ball around Charlie Hayter and Dan Norton and retrieved the ball for a try, cutting the lead to 7-5.

England gathered the restart and after advancing the ball deep into USA territory, Perry Baker stripped Dan Bibby and was off for the try. This gave the Eagles a 10-7 lead with less than a minute to play.

The Eagles then turned over the ball to England with a penalty. England went through phases until Phil Burgess lost the ball forward, and Stephen Tomasin turned the advantage being played into a try in the corner. At halftime the Eagles led 15-7.

Maka Unufe came on to begin the second half and claimed the restart and was instrumental in advancing the ball into England territory. Danny Barrett then advanced the ball and at the breakdown Ben Pinkelman took the ball in for a try and a 20-7 lead.

On the restart, Pinkelman won a penalty in a tackle on Tom Bowen and Stephen Tomasin found a couple of gaps. England then gained possession and cleared the ball as Perry Baker tracked back. In the back and forth of possession Baker knocked a pass backwards following a U.S. penalty to free Hughes for the final try and a 27-7 win.

Cup Semi-Finals: USA v South Africa

The USA Men’s Eagles advanced to their third consecutive Cup Semifinal and also faced South Africa for the third consecutive time. Just like in Las Vegas, South Africa squeezed out a 29-24 win, this time in sudden death, to advance to the Cup Final.

The USA had been a defensive force at the Hong Kong Sevens, only yielding 33 points prior to their Cup Semi-Final match. This was a tournament low according to USA Rugby.

South Africa attacked first, but a knock on by Cecil Afrika, led to the Eagles Sevens playing advantage. Martin Iosefo drew in defenders and was supported by Perry Baker, who executed a pop pass to Madison Hughes for a try, which he then converted for a 7-0 lead.

South Africa struck right back with a Siviwe Soyizwapi try in the corner in the fourth minute to bring the score to 7-5. Unfortunately for the USA, Danny Barrett was removed from the game as an injury precaution. A knock on by Baker in USA territory then led to Dylan Sage finding a gap for a try under the posts to gain a 12-7 lead.

South Africa then capitalized on two USA penalties after the hooter, as Philip Snyman added a try. At the break, the score was 19-7 to South Africa.

Soyizwapi extended South Africa’s lead in the eight minute with a chase of a kick downfield. He then booted the ball in-goal and grounded for a try, as they increased the lead to 24-7.

This is where the Eagles offense took over. Baker and Tomasin attacked and a Hughes grubber found Martin Iosefo for his 28th career try, cutting the lead to 24-12.

Pinkelman and Mike Te’o created a turnover in the 12th minute, which led to another try.  Te’o gathered a Hughes high kick and Maka Unufe ran to the 10, offloading to Baker for a try under the posts to narrow the score to 24-19 after Hughes’ conversion.

South Africa then knock on behind its 10 and Perry Baker added a try in the corner. The USA had a chance to win the match, but the conversion was missed, so the match was even 24-24 at the end of regulation.

The Eagles had an opportunity to attack in extra time, as they claimed the restart, but a forward pass ended the attack. This provided all the momentum necessary for South Africa, as they tested the USA defense using quick offloads before Ruhan Nel went over for the winning try and a 29-24 victory.

Bronze Final: USA v Australia

It wasn’t to be for the Eagles Sevens in the Bronze Final, as they lost to Australia for the first time this season 26-19.

The USA kept fifth place in the HSBC World Sevens Series standing, but Australia shrunk the gap from five to three points, as they follow in sixth place. Perry Baker has been on a try scoring tear. He had nine tries in Hong Kong to go along with seven in Canada. Hopefully, that will continue as the Series resumes next Saturday, April 15, at the HSBC Singapore Sevens.

Australia took a 14-0 lead on two converted tries. Australia took the opening start and Lachie Anderson grounded the ball as Ben Pinkelman made a tackle in-goal. An Anderson offload to Charlie Taylor added a try in the front of the posts.

The USA narrowed the score to 14-7 as Baker took the restart and after a Ben Pinkelman run, Baker offloaded to Mikey Te’o for a try.

In the 8th minute, Matai Leuta had a srtong run and held off defenders before offloading to Ben Pinkelman for a try to narrow the gap to 14-12.

Australia then took advantage of Madison Hughes losing the ball from the restart as he was tackled. Australia then cycled the ball and Tim Anstee added a try to increase their lead to 21-12.

The Eagles struck right back as Perry Baker broke a tackle and added a try, and narrow the lead to 21-19. Australia’s James Stannard then sealed the match with a try and a 26-19 win, after Anthony Welmers was unable to control a loose ball.

Squads

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

England 1 Richard de Carpenter 2 Charlie Hayter 3 Phil Burgess 4 Dan Norton 5 James Rodwell 6 Tom Mitchell 7 Dan Bibby 8 Tom Bowen 9 Oliver Lindsay-Hague 10 Ruaridh McConnochie 11 Ethan Waddleton 12 Charlton Kerr 13 Callum Sirker

South Africa: 1. Chris Dry 2. Philip Snyman 3. Dylan Sage 4. Zain Davids 5. Werner Kok 6. Siviwe Soyizwapi 7. Branco du Preez 8. Tim Agaba 9. Selvyn Davids 10. Cecil Afrika 11. Stedman Gans 12. Ruhan Nel 13. Ryan Oosthuizen

Australia: 1. Henry Hutchison 1 Simon Kennewell 3 Nick Malouf 4 Liam McNamara 5 James Stannard 6 John Porch 7 Tim Anstee 8 Boyd Killingworth 9 Ed Jenkins 10 Tom Lucas 11 Charlie Taylor 12 Lachie Anderson 13 Tom Kingston

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

  • v. Russia – W14-7
  • v. Scotland -W19-14
  • v. Argentina – W33-5
  • Cup QF v England – W27-7
  • Cup SF v South Africa -L29-24 ET
  • Bronze Final v Australia – L 26-19

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