First half blitz sees Eagles through opener

MOSCOW, Russia - The Men’s Eagles Sevens began their 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens mission with a 26-19 win against Georgia inside the beautiful Luzhniki Stadium.

The Eagles scored four excellent tries, leading 26-7 within the first seven minutes.

“We played our game, remained composed and scored some nice tries in the first half,” said captain Matt Hawkins.

In the second half however, Georgia struck back and added 12 points of their own. Hawkins was not impressed with his team’s “individual rugby” after the half, which saw the Eagles finish with a narrow 26-19 victory.

Zack Test started the match with an excellent catch off the kick. The ball went wide to winger Nick Edwards, and after a secure ruck, it was Hawkins who drew two defenders to send a flying Colin Hawley into space. The former Cal Bear bust through, racing in for the opening try. Shalom Suniula made it 7-0 with the conversion.

Georgia was under pressure with the very next play, but managed to hold the Eagles out. Off a scrum, Zurab Dznsladze found space and broke free for the Georgians, seeing Merab Sharikadze touch down for the equalizer. Giorgi Jimsheladze kicked the conversion to make it 7-7 after four minutes.

Playmaker Folau Niua was in action next, selling two beautiful dummies, sending Hawkins down the touchline. The ‘Polar Bear’ drew two tacklers and deftly switched with Test, who scored the Eagles second try. Suniula kicked the extras, and the USA led 14-7.

Test was involved with another fantastic restart to come down with the ball in hand. The mountain Andrew Duratalo bashed it up, as the Eagles moved it wide again. Edwards turned on the gas, using his strength to carry a defender as he dove over for a superb five-pointer. Suniula struck an very wide sideline conversion to put his team up 21-7.

The Eagles Restart wins remained consistent as Test took possession and stepped past a defender. The American top try scorer, with 75 on the HSBC Sevens World Series, this time set up the score with an off-load to the ever present Niua who evaded several close defenders to put it down. The conversion attempt went wide, as the Eagles lead 26-7 at halftime.

The second period saw several penalties from the Eagles squad, giving Georgia an opportunity for a solid attack. Following a patient wave of possession, Shavleg Makharashvili scored for Georgia.

Head Coach Alex Magleby brought on substitutes Mike Palefau, Brett Thompson and Carlin Isles with Hawley, Duratalo and Edwards leaving the field.

The Eagles deviated from their game plan for periods of the second half, and weren’t able to breach the Georgian defense.

Jack Halalilo and Maka Unufe came off the bench for their first World Cup appearances.

At the end of the match Merab Kvirikashvili slipped through the Eagles defense and scored for his country. Makharashvili added the conversion as the hooter signaled the end of the pool clash. Despite a poor second half, the Eagles won 26-19.

Listen to Coach Magleby's comments after the match. (Click on audio on the right-hand side)

Saturday’s remaining pool action will see the Eagles take on Canada at 2.06 AM E.T followed by HSBC World Series champions New Zealand at 8.20 AM E.T.

The games will be streamed live from theIRB’s website as well as broadcast onUniversal Sports on June 28 at 7:00 AM E.T., June 29 at 1:00 AM E.T. and June 30 at 1:30 AM E.T.

Follow live updates on Twitter from the official USA Rugby account (@USARugby) and read game recaps on and Join the conversation using #RWC7s.

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | vs. Georgia
1. Carlin Isles (s)
2. Nick Edwards
3. Andrew Durutalo
4. Shalom Suniula
5. Zach Test
6. Matt Hawkins
7. Folau Niua
8. Jack Halalilo (s)
9. Maka Unufe (s)
10. Mike Palefau (s)
11. Colin Hawley
12. Brett Thompson (s)

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | vs. Georgia
Tries: Hawley, Edwards, Test, Niua
Conversions: Suniula (3)

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | Results
USA 26 Georgia 19 (Pool Stages, June 28)

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | Schedule
USA vs. Canada 2.06 AM E.T Saturday June 29
USA vs. New Zealand 8.20 AM E.T Saturday June 29

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | Staff
Alex Magleby (Head Coach)
Andy Katoa (Manager)
Brian Green (Athletic trainer)
Paul Goulding (Video Analyst)