Win over Canada just out of reach for Eagles

MOSCOW, Russia - The Men’s Eagles Sevens lost a very tight clash with rivals Canada by one point during their second pool match at the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament.

“There appeared to be some confusion with our restarts. Tactically we thought we had buttoned that up, and obviously we hadn’t,” reflected Eagles Head Coach Alex Magleby. “That falls on me as a coach to make sure there is total clarity. We suffered that first try, and that kind of set the momentum in the first half”.

Canada didn’t waste any time as Sean Duke claimed their opening kickoff, sending veteran Philip Mack untouched in the corner for the first try of the match. The conversion was missed, with Canada taking an early 5-0 lead inside Luzhniki Stadium.

Shortly thereafter dangerous runner Nathan Hirayama found an opening in the defense, putting more pressure on the Eagles inside their 22-meter. Through a penalty, Canada moved the ball wide, with Duke capitalizing on some missed tackling assignments to score his team’s second try of the game. Mack was unable to add the conversion and Canada kept led 10-0.

With a minute remaining, the Eagles came back to life winning the all important restart. Several patient phases of attack eventually led to prop Andrew Durutalo stretching the defense, getting a superb flick pass back inside to a flying Nick Edwards. The winger added his second Rugby World Cup try - this time under the poles - making for an easier conversion for Shalom Suniula. This put the USA back in the game, trailing 10-7.

Colin Hawley’s arial leap tapped the ball back to the USA at the next restart, but Cananda managed to steal possession. From there, Ciaran Hearn found space, causing trouble with the Eagles defensive line. Captain Matt Hawkins was able to get the ball back for the USA and into the hands of speedster Edwards. Edwards, however, wasn’t able to connect with a loose pass and the siren blew for the end of a frantic first half. Canada lead 10-7.

Magleby brought on Mike Palefau on for a tired looking Durutalo to begin the second half.

Flyhalf Folau Niua put the second half restart directly into touch. Canada capitalized off the error, with Duke scorching over in the corner for his second try of the match. The sideline conversion was no good, as Canada lead 15-7.

Shortly after, substitutes Brett Thompson and Maka Unufe entered the game for Eagles Hawley and Niua.

Canada knocked on at the restart, then committed a penalty. The Eagles fresh players also made an an immediate impact as talented youngster Unufe drew his defender and completed a magnificient off-load to Thompson. The hard working Thompson broke through to score under the sticks, as the small Luzhniki crowd came alive.

Suniula kicked the conversion, as Canada had the one-point lead with three minutes to play.

The Eagles managed to get possession via Zack Test from the kick-off. Suniula, seeing some open space, chipped through a grubber kick for Thompson. Unfortunately the ball rolled into touch near the Canadian 5-meter line and the Eagles lost the possession.

Canada launched a solid attack from their own line, with Hirayama getting around Edwards initially, but Edwards did a fantastic job to tackle his opposite number into touch.

In the final moments of the match, Carlin Isles entered for the United States. Following a scrum, Isles got the ball, but was marked by two defenders and couldn’t find the gap. The ball moved wide, but strong defense on Unufe rendered the ball unplayable and the referee awarded a scrum to Canada.

In the final movement of the match, Canada won the scrum and kicked the ball out of bounds, defeating the Eagles 15-14.

“We seemed quite gassed in the beginning of the game. Some players had to do a lot of extra work as defensively we were shuffling,” Magleby said.

“We will have to look at the game footage, and also evaluate which are the best combinations going into New Zealand. We’ll look to move forward and play one of the best teams in the world, which is pretty exciting. We’ll recover right now and be ready for the that match”.

Saturday’s remaining Pool C match is at 8.20 AM E.T. against New Zealand. The match will be streamed live from theIRB’s website as well as broadcast onUniversal Sports.

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

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | vs. Canada
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. Canada
Tries: Edwards, Thompson
Conversions: Suniula (2)

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | Results
USA 26 Georgia 19 (Pool Stages, June 28)
USA 14 Canada 15 (Pool Stages, June 29)

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | Schedule
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)