Eagles handle Russia in Glasgow opener

GLASGOW, Scotland – Not only did the Men’s Eagles Sevens open Glasgow Sevens with an important win, they also decreased their points scored differential with a 48-5 win against promotion-seeking Russia Saturday.

Nick Edwards scored three tries and Colin Hawley and Zach Test proved instrumental in the Eagles’ restarts, as coach Alexander Magleby’s team took the initiative and put in a dominant performance at the eighth round of the IRB World Sevens Series.

The Eagles gained the opening kickoff and moved the ball sideline to sideline twice before Niua sent Edwards to chase with a chip into the try zone. Edwards was caught by a Russian player but managed to get to touch it down for a 5-0 lead in under a minute.

One minute later, Hawley used his strength and height to reach Folau Niua’s restart and come down with the ball before turning around and running into the try zone untouched. Another conversion miss by Shalom Suniula resulted in a 10-0 lead, but the Eagles were not satisfied.

Hawley forced a knock from the ensuing restart, but Edwards gave away a penalty due to not releasing in the tackle. Russia’s first possession did not last long, as the Bears turned the ball over to a fantastic Eagles counterruck. At the five-minute mark, Edwards received the ball sixty yards from the try zone and used a burst of pace to create space between himself and the defenders for a simple try between the sticks. Suniula’s conversion extended the lead to 17-0.

The Eagles found one more try before the end of the first half, this time from Niua. Suniula sent a high kick destined for the corner of the try zone into the hands of Niua for a 22-0 halftime lead.

Russia had just five passes from its one real possession in the first half and the Eagles conceded two penalties, a marked improvement from previous tournaments.

Russia committed another knock to open the half from the restart and the Eagles capitalized again. Edwards gained ground down the right side to draw a few defenders into a tackle and captain Matt Hawkins ran in at a great angle to accept the pass and score his first try of the tournament. Suniula’s conversion was good for a 29-0 lead.

Magleby’s starting lineup proved perfect for the match-up with Russia, with big bodies like Hawley and Test favored over the likes of Luke Hume and Carlin Isles. Hume, Isles, Andrew Durutalo, Brett Thompson and Jack Halalilo entered the fray a few minutes into the second half.

Durutalo helped set up Edwards’ hat trick try in the 10th minute with strong running down the left side before switching the play to Edwards for the finish and 34-0 lead.

Halalilo took advantage of Russia’s mishandling off the ensuing restart for the easiest try of his career, capped with a successful conversion by Niua for the 41-0 lead.

In the 14th minute, Isles used his speed to chase a Russian destined for the try zone and regain possession for the Eagles. He and Hume combined to open the field for Halalilo, who used Isles as a decoy to take the ball in himself for his second try of the match and a 48-0 lead.

With time expired, Russia’s Stanislav Bondarev added a consolation try, but the Eagles gained significant ground in the relegation battle at the bottom of the table with a 43-point win at 48-5.

The Eagles will most likely be watching Scotland’s match with Portugal before they suit up again for Wales at 9:42 A.M. ET. The Eagles need to finish ahead of Scotland this weekend in order to retain core team status for next year’s Series. Follow live updates from USA Rugby during the match on Twitter by following @USARugby.

Men’s Eagles Sevens | vs. Russia
1 Carlin Isles (s)
2 Nick Edwards
3 Andrew Durutalo (s)
4 Shalom Suniula
5 Zach Test
6 Matt Hawkins
7 Folau Niua
8 Jack Halalilo (s)
9 Luke Hume (s)
10 Blaine Scully
11 Colin Hawley
12 Brett Thompson (s)

Men’s Eagles Sevens | vs. Russia
Tries: Edwards (3), Hawley, Niua, Hawkins, Halalilo (2)
Conversions: Suniula (2), Niua (2)

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Glasgow Sevens
vs. Wales - 9:42 A.M. ET Saturday, May 4