USA Sevens: Day Three

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The Men’s Eagles Sevens won the war of attrition in the USA Sevens Shield Final Sunday with a dominant 31-0 win against Spain at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Captain Nick Edwards lived up to his nickname by starting the show in the second minute with a great individual effort for the match’s first try. After receiving the ball near his own 22, Edwards found a hole and fended a Spanish defender before racing the remaining length of the pitch to dot down in the middle of the try zone. Folau Niua did not miss the easy conversion for a 7-0 Eagles lead.

Edwards was slow to get up after a big hit a minute later, as was Stephen Tomasin, who needed help off of the field in the morning’s Shield Semifinal. Tomasin left the Final for Nu’u Punimata.

The captain remained in the match for one more play, a replica of his try-scoring run. He was tackled just outside the try line, however, but Niua’s quick tap from a Spain penalty set up space for Brett Thompson to extend the Eagles’ lead to 14-0.

Edwards was taken out of the game following the try for Carlin Isles, who made an immediate impact by setting up a turnover. Zack Test grabbed the loose ball and found the corner for the Eagles’ third first-half try and a 19-0 halftime lead.

In the ninth minute, Isles found himself deep in Eagles territory with the ball. From the moment he received the ball, the raucous home crowd knew exactly what would happen next: a highlight-reel try from the fastest man in rugby. Isles found a hole and, with a burst of acceleration, left seven men in red jerseys and six others in blue in his dust for a try of the tournament nominee. Suniula’s conversion was successful to bring the score to 26-0.

Young Pono Haitsuka, who scored against Spain Saturday, was replaced by Ryan Matyas following the try. Matyas and the Eagles kept Spain from scoring in the remaining five minutes and helped create room for Test to score his second try of the match.

Again the Eagles found themselves with the ball deep in defensive territory. Instead of trying to run it out, Test decided to clear with a kick. He followed up his own clearance and took advantage of a fortunate bounce near Spain’s 22 to score the match’s final try.

The 31-0 win marks the largest margin of victory for the Eagles at USA Sevens, while the Shield marks the first trophy won on the circuit since Gold Coast Sevens, where the Eagles also won the Shield.

Next up for the Eagles is Wellington Sevens Feb. 7-8. The pool draw and tournament schedule will be announced following the conclusion of USA Sevens.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v Spain1. Carlin Isles (@ 5’)
2. Nick Edwards3. Danny Barrett
4. Nu'u Punimata (@ 4’)
5. Zack Test6. Brett Thompson7. Folau Niua8 .Andrew Durutalo9. Pono Haitsuka10. Shalom Suniula (@ 9')
11. Stephen Tomasin12. Ryan Matyas (@ 12')

Men's Eagles Sevens | 31Tries: Edwards, Thompson, Test (2), Isles
Conversions: Niua (2), Suniula

Men’s Eagles Sevens vice captain Zack Test led his team with two tries Sunday in a 28-14 win against Uruguay in the USA Sevens Shield Semifinal.

Test opened the scoring in the second minute after giving Folau Niua support near the attacking 22. Niua, while being tackled, lofted the ball up for the onrushing Test, who broke a final tackle to dance into the try zone and dot down between the uprights. Niua finished his part in the scoring play with the conversion to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.

Uruguay almost had an immediate reply from the restart, but Pono Haitsuka chased down the attacker and tackled him into touch just outside the try zone to turn over possession.

Carlin Isles, starting his first match at USA Sevens, put his head down and drove his feet into the ground to catch up to a deep kick from his teammate. He managed to catch up to a Uruguay defender and beat him to the ball, but he was knocked away before he could get ahold of the ball.

Uruguay gave away the ball moments later and Brett Thompson capitalized for the Eagles Niua’s second conversion gave the Eagles a 14-0 lead.

Uruguay moved the ball through multiple phases without losing it in the final minute of the first half and Juan de Freitas was rewarded with a try to put his side on the scoreboard, 14-7.

Despite the late try, the Eagles had not given Uruguay much in terms of space on the field to score throughout the majority of the first half. A huge hit in the ninth minute gave the Eagles more space on the field and Isles took advantage by juking past two defenders for a 50-meter try. Shalom Suniula, substituted at halftime, converted from in front for a 21-7 lead.

Sebastian Cuello scored a second try for Uruguay, the third time the South Americans have scored twice in a match all weekend, but Test added his second by picking up a loose ball just meters from the try zone to bring the final score to 28-14.

Spain defeated Portugal 19-12 in the other Shield Semifinal to set up a rematch of the final Pool D match from Saturday. The Eagles defeated Spain 31-10 thanks to tries from Brett Thompson, Niua, Haitsuka and Stephen Tomasin.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v Uruguay1. Carlin Isles2. Nick Edwards (@ 12')
3. Danny Barrett
4. Nu'u Punimata (@ 9’)
5. Zack Test6. Brett Thompson7. Folau Niua8 .Andrew Durutalo9. Pono Haitsuka10. Shalom Suniula (@ 9')
11. Stephen Tomasin12. Ryan Matyas (@ 12')

Men's Eagles Sevens | 28Tries: Test (2), Thompson, Isles
Conversions: Niua (2), Suniula (2)